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Obituary: Professor Robert A. Shaw

We are deeply saddened by the death of Professor Robert A. Shaw.

Born on 2 November 1924, Professor Shaw spent his early childhood in Austria before arriving via the Kindertransport into England in July 1939. Following war service for the British Army, he studied at Leicester University College; the first step towards his career as an academic in the chemistry field. His first post at Birkbeck, as Assistant Lecturer started in 1953 and his eventual promotion from Lecturer directly to full Professor at Birkbeck was known for being the first such appointment in the University of London.

Professor Shaw was regarded as one of the world's leading experts on phosphazenes, a group of cyclic and acyclic phosphorus-nitrogen compounds that he was responsible for naming. He had a distinguished international reputation, and over the course of his career was applauded for forging a vast array of international research collaborations with scholars in Bangladesh, Canada, France, Germany, India, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Turkey, the UK, and the U.S. For roughly two decades, Professor Shaw was also on the nomination panel for the Chemistry Nobel Prizes, with both of his successful nominees going on to receive the Nobel Prize.

After his formal retirement in 1990 he continued co-directing international and interdisciplinary research projects, and also developed his interest in history, co-authoring, with his daughter, three articles on The History of Medicine in the Journal of Medical Biography. He has an impressive 363 publications and twenty patents to his name, and his first book 'A Life in Science – Gifted by the Kindertransport' was published in 2015.

An avid reader, Professor Shaw loved everything related to science and history. The passion he showed his career for forging international connection was reflected in his personal life, with a strong interest in learning about other cultures through travel and photography.