Emeritus Professor Noel Cant
Emeritus Professor Noel Cant

Vale Noel Cant

Words by Professor Brian Orr

As those of us within the Faculty of Science already know, Macquarie University lost one of its most highly respected academics last month. At the age of 74 and after a determined battle, Emeritus Professor Noel Cant succumbed to lymphoma on 11 April 2014.

Noel will be remembered by many as a quiet achiever, a brilliant researcher, and a dedicated teacher. Having graduated from The University of Western Australia, he was appointed in 1970 as a Lecturer in the early days of our School of Chemistry and served the University loyally for over forty years. In my experience (which spans most of that period), one could always rely on Noel’s encyclopaedic knowledge, his sound judgement, and his wise opinions; moreover, he was an exceptionally kind and considerate friend.

A measure of Noel Cant’s standing, both at Macquarie University and internationally, is that he was one of the first of a small number of our academics to be selected as a Personal Chair – back in the early 1990s when ‘promotion to a Chair’ was a rare distinction. Earlier, in 1986, Noel had shared the Royal Australian Chemical Institute’s Erich Heymann Applied Research Medal with (the late) David Trimm and Mark Wainwright.

There have been many personal tributes for Noel:

Noel was a truly outstanding physical chemist whose research expertise was in the mechanistic studies of industrial and environmental catalysis. He made seminal contributions to many of these areas and remained a very active researcher to the end. … He will be deeply missed by the Australian and international community of catalyst researchers.” – Professor Peter Nelson, Executive Dean, Faculty of Science

Professor Cant was a legend and the world is now a little less well-off with him gone.” – Research colleagues at the University of New South Wales

Noel Cant was a great man, a man of grace. He was my mentor and my friend” – Dr Dennys Angove, CSIRO researcher, Noel’s colleague and former PhD student (as spoken at Noel’s well-attended funeral)

Our sympathy and appreciation go to Noel’s wife Jenny, daughter Susan (Taylor), sons Christopher and Anthony, and their families.