Julian Perry Robinson

A great space, now empty

Julian at the beach

We mourn the passing of our colleague, mentor and friend Julian Perry Robinson. He died on April 22nd 2020, aged 78, from complications caused by COVID-19.

Since his death, there have been many wonderful words written about him by his colleagues and friends from around the world. His obituaries in The Guardian, The Times, Nature, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists and Arms Control Today, amongst others, as well as remembrances by former colleagues at SPRU and SIPRI and from friends across the CBW community stand as testimony to the fundamental role that Julian’s life’s work devoted to preventing the misuse of chemistry and biology and further militarisation of those areas of science has played in shaping the current CBW disarmament architecture.

Known as “the expert’s expert”, Julian shared his unparalleled body of empirical and conceptual knowledge about chemical and biological weapons widely, brought experts, policy makers and policy shapers together in constructive discourse, and patiently mentored generations of scholars and policy practitioners. These activities along with his more than 500 papers mean his ideas will continue to shape the CBW arms control and disarmament field for decades to come.

Work is now underway to establish The Julian Perry Robinson Fund. This fund will seek to maintain Julian’s legacy and inspire future generations of scholars and practitioners. The central aim will be preserving the Sussex Harvard Information Bank (SHIB). This collection, begun by Julian in the 1960s is the product of his and HSP colleagues concerted and continuing effort to acquire up-to-date information about CBW and to make that information available. Considered by many to be the world’s largest open source archive on chemical and biological weapons (CBW), SHIB has benefited not only JPR’s own research students - many of whom moved on to key positions in academia and relevant inter-governmental organisations - but also scholars and practitioners from around the world.

The Fund will look towards improving access, including in further fundraising to enable a programme of digitisation of the collection. It is anticipated that this will require research and archival support . With sufficient funding the fund will also enable a number of linked activities, such as research visits, supported by bursaries; the publishing of an anthology of more than 500 papers Julian published during his career alongside contemporary reflections and analysis of his work; as well as seeking to support and bring together the CBW community.

The fund will be administered by the University of Sussex Development and Alumni Relations Office. To contribute please visit: https://alumni.sussex.ac.uk/julian-perry-robinson-fund

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