Image of Dr John Adkins at the waterside

Dr John Adkins (1934-2020)

We are very sorry to note that Dr John Adkins died on 17 July 2020, and we offer his family our deep condolences.

After taking his undergraduate degree at Christ’s College Cambridge, John first joined Jesus as a PhD student in 1956. Admitted as a Fellow of Jesus in 1957, he was appointed a University Lecturer in the Cavendish Laboratory’s Low Temperature Physics Group in 1964, and went on to lead the group from 1982 until his retirement in 1999.

Through skillful experimentation John addressed many problems in condensed matter physics, including superconductivity, electronic conduction in disordered systems, quantum mechanical tunnelling and the metal-insulator transition; his contribution to Physics was recognised by his election as a Fellow of the Institute of Physics. John's heavy involvement in teaching laid the foundations for the success of his book Equilibrium Thermodynamics, which has long been a standard text for undergraduate students.

A fine oboe player, John was closely involved in all aspects of music-making during his time in Jesus. He was President of the Jesus College Musical Society for 33 years, from 1976 to 2009, during which time his untiring support for student musicians led to many memorable concerts and performances. John collaborated with Laurence Picken on an article about the physics of sound production and how it relates to various oriental and ancient stringed instruments.

John was a keen sportsman, sometimes swimming in the Cam before coming into dinner in Hall, and playing squash well into his eighth decade. He served as President of Jesus between 1982 and 1985, his tenure overlapping with Prince Edward’s time as an undergraduate.

John remained forward-looking all his life. A forceful proponent of the admission of women to College in the 1970s, he was delighted by the election of the first female Master in 2019.

John will be greatly missed by the many students who gained from his superb teaching and unstinting encouragement, and by the Fellows and staff for his lively conversation, sharp intelligence and lasting concern for the welfare of others.

A full obituary will be published in the College’s Annual Report.

The funeral will be private; a memorial ceremony will be held when possible.