Former Secretary of the Zoological Society of London, Professor Robert McNeill (Neill) Alexander, sadly passed away on 21 March 2016.
Professor Alexander was a key figure in biomechanics and had a long association with the Society, as a Council member from 1988-1991 and Vice President in 1990-91. He became Secretary of ZSL in 1992, a position he held until his retirement in 1999.
Over the course of his career, Professor Alexander made an outstanding contribution to the zoological and scientific communities, significantly advancing understanding of the mechanics of human and animal movement. He had a particular interest in the movement of dinosaurs and his work to develop a formula to calculate the speed of dinosaur motion proved hugely influential.
His remarkable work in biomechanics saw Professor Alexander contribute more than 250 papers as well as significant books such as Functional Design in Fishes and Locomotion in Animals.
He had a long and distinguished career, becoming President of the Society for Experimental Biology, President of the International Society of Vertebrate Morphologists, Fellow of the Royal Society and Editor of its journal Proceedings of the Royal Society.
Following his retirement he was made Emeritus Professor of Zoology at Leeds University, where he had taught for 30 years, inspiring a new generation of zoologists.
In 2015, in recognition of his contributions to biomechanics, Professor Alexander was awarded an honorary degree by the Royal Veterinary College.
Professor Geoff Boxshall, Secretary of ZSL, said: "I was saddened to learn of the death of Professor Robert McNeill Alexander - Neill to his friends and colleagues. Neill was a tireless supporter of ZSL the strong and vibrant Society we have today is in part the legacy of Neill's hard work on Council: he lived in Leeds but was in London almost every week on ZSL business for most of the 1990s.”
“I also want to pay tribute to Neill as a great zoologist. During my time as an undergraduate at Leeds University, Neill came in as professor and head of the Department of Pure and Applied Zoology. Despite having overcome a stammer, he was an articulate and inspiring lecturer. His field was animal mechanics and I still remember the intellectual clarity and the fun of his analyses of dinosaur locomotion, fish swimming and grasshopper jumping. We were fortunate to have him as Secretary to Council."