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William L. H. Shuter (1936–1995)

Published onSep 01, 1996
William L. H. Shuter (1936–1995)

William Shuter, professor in the Department of Physics and the first radio astronomer hired at the University of British Columbia, died in Vancouver after a very brief illness on 19 March 1995.

Bill was born in South Africa and obtained his BSc and MSc from Rhodes University and his PhD from the University of Manchester in 1963 under the supervision of R. D. Davies. He was among the first to use the 250 foot Mark I radio telescope, then the largest fully steerable telescope in the world. After his degree, Bill returned to Rhodes University to teach. He came to UBC in 1965 to start a research program in radio astronomy and astrophysics.

One of his first research programs at UBC was a large-scale survey of HI emission from the Galaxy carried out at the Dominion Radio Astrophysical Observatory (DRAO) in Penticton, which was the first contact between DRAO and UBC physics. Some of our students continue to do research there.

In the early 1970s, Bill installed a 15-foot antenna at UBC. Various projects including observations of CO emission at 2.6 mm were carried out. This began Canadian involvement in short wavelength radio astronomy which continues at submillimeter wavelengths with the Canadian partnership in the James Clerk Maxwell Telescope in Hawaii. He had wide interests in instrumentation; most recently he was working with a group on a design for liquid mirror telescopes which could observe away from the zenith, which resulted in one of his last publications.

Bill was a member of numerous professional societies in astronomy, and gave service to the astronomical community with memberships on the initial Council of the Canadian Astronomical Society, the NRC Associate Committee for Astronomy, the Canadian National Committee for the IAU, and was chairman of Canadian Commission V of URSI.

Bill was a dedicated teacher who found great enjoyment in the undergraduate engineering physics project labs, taking a hand in developing some of them. He worked with engineering physics students to develop Fresnel antennae for receiving transmissions from satellites, and was a consultant to the Provincial Government on satellite TV systems. Bill is survived by his wife Beverley, and two sons, William and Edward. He will be missed by all who knew him.

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