Professor Terry Jones (1939 - 2015)

Tribute to Professor Terry Jones (1939 - 2015)

Professor Terry JonesProfessor Terence Valentine Jones was an inspirational leader, a compulsive innovator, an inventor of genius and a brilliant all-round teacher. He had boundless enthusiasm and a genuine warmth appreciated by all who knew him. He was acknowledged throughout the world as one of the legends of high speed flow and heat transfer.

Terry graduated as a physicist from Oxford. The rigor and scientific enquiry fundamental to this subject stood him well throughout his career. He joined the Department of Engineering Science at Oxford as a doctoral research student. In 1968 he and his DPhil supervisor, Don Schultz, realised that the short duration wind tunnels and innovative heat transfer instrumentation used to study hypersonic flow could be profitably applied to gas turbine heat transfer and aerodynamics. They convinced Rolls Royce that Oxford had much to offer and started a partnership with the company which prospers to this day. Terry invented the first of many new wind tunnels, the Isentropic Light Piston Tunnel, or ILPT. He and Don encouraged the University to buy the old Oxford Power Station which became the first Osney Laboratory.

The Osney Turbomachinery Group prospered and in 1975 they built a large ILPT, to Terry’s design, to test turbine cascades. This became the Oxford Rotor and is still in use. This was so successful that the National Gas Turbine Establishment (later to become QinetiQ) commissioned the research group to build a larger ILPT. This operated on the Pyestock and Farnborough sites for about twenty years. Recently, when QinetiQ closed down their turbomachinery research, Rolls Royce financed the tunnel’s return to Oxford, where it continues as the Oxford Turbine Research and is testimony to Terry’s innovative skills.

After Don Schultz died in1987, it was appropriate that Terry should take over the leadership of the Osney group. In 1988 Terry was elected as the first Donald Schultz Professor of Turbomachinery. He moved from St Anne’s college to a Professorial fellowship at St Catherine’s. He continued to expand the group adding more facilities and researchers.

Terry was the first to see that thermochromic liquid crystals could be used to measure heat transfer and this flowered into new techniques, now in use world-wide. As well as turbomachinery, Terry worked on innovative measurement techniques, industrial air coolers and cooling towers, molecular beams, shock waves and hypersonics. He published over 200 academic papers. He supervised 50 research students, instilling his rigorous methods and sense of discovery.

Terry was a gentleman, in every sense of the word. He shared his ideas generously, and always gave his time freely to all who sat with him in his “power station superintendent’s office”. Of course, this also meant that his meetings often finished late, as he continuously enthused over new concepts and ideas.

His fundamental approach to research problems won him great respect and affection from all who worked with him. His considerable achievements were recognised in the wider world. He led a team which was awarded the 1996 Royal Society Energy award, complete with Gold Medals! He was a Fellow of the Royal Aeronautical Society, a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering and an Associate Fellow of the AIAA. In 2011, he was awarded the prestigious Silver Medal by the Royal Aeronautical Society for his lifetime contributions to aerospace. And as recently as 2014 he was awarded a lifetime achievement award by the Mathematical, Physical & Life Sciences Division at Oxford.

The last decade was not kind to Terry, as he battled illness. He showed remarkable fortitude, remained cheerful of spirit and continued to participate in research projects, helping many of the latest generation of students. He will be sadly missed.

Professors Peter Ireland and Martin Oldfield