Eric Raymond Vance, known as Lou to almost all of his friends and colleagues, was born in Ararat Hospital on 15/11/1942 and died at Calvary Hospital, Kogarah, Sydney on 7/3/2019.
During his childhood, the family moved to Stawell where his father, Albert Louis Vance, established a pharmacy business. From his commencement at Stawell High School, it was very soon apparent that Lou was someone. He had a remarkable capacity for scholastic achievement, exhibiting from the early years sharp insight, industry and unusual inventiveness. He scored outstanding results at all levels through these years. Stawell High School at this time had the wonderful combination of a talented group of senior students, and an extremely dedicated staff led by an outstanding principal, Mr Burt Murdoch.
Always a scholar, Lou was also a sportsman, a member of Stawell High School's cricket and football premiership teams that won Wimmera championships. During residency in Queen's College for his undergraduate years at the University of Melbourne, he was a member of the Queen's College golf team that won the intercollegiate championship played at Royal Melbourne. He continued throughout his life to enjoy being a social golfer. Until last October Lou was a very competitive tennis player. He and Jan were also avid duplicate bridge players, especially during the long Canadian winters.
Those who knew Lou through his secondary school and undergraduate years were very aware of his exceptional scholastic abilities. It was hoped, and expected, that he would have a brilliant career.
After graduating with a Ph.D. in Physics from Monash University in 1968, Lou held several research positions around the world, summarised as follows: 1968-1969 AAEC, (now ANSTO), Sydney; 1969-1972 University College, London; 1972-1977 Research School of Physical Sciences, Australian National University, Canberra; 1977-1978 University College, London; 1978-1979 Georgia State University, Atlanta, Georgia; 1979-1982 Pennsylvania State University, State College, Pennsylvania; 1982-1987 Atomic Energy of Canada, Pinawa, Manitoba, Canada; 1987-2019 ANSTO, Sydney.
In 2007, Lou was awarded the Leverhulme Fellowship to work at Cambridge University in earth Sciences, and later made a Fellow of Clare Hall.
Lou's research embraced many different areas of the physics of materials, and included studies of magnetism in metallic alloys, neutron irradiation effects in diamonds and other minerals, properties of glass ceramics and geopolymers. Lou finally settled with his wife, Jan, and their two children, Julia and Michael, in a position with ANSTO, researching aspects of Synroc, an artificial mineral for safely locking away various radioactive elements, which had been invented at the Australian National University in the 1970s by the late Professor Ted Ringwood.
Drawing on his knowledge of waste-form technology from his research in Canada, and enthusiastically applying this to the Synroc program, Lou progressed within ANSTO, being promoted to Senior Research Scientist in 1987 and to Chief Research Scientist in 2001. He was author or co-author to almost 400 articles in international journals or conference proceedings. He was a Fellow of the Australian Institute of Physics, the American Ceramic Society, the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering and the Australian Ceramic Society. Lou was also an Academician of the World Academy of Ceramics, a long-time member of the Materials Research Society and a member of the Australian Nuclear Association. He held editorial and/or advisory board roles for the Journal of the Australian Ceramic Society, the Journal of Nuclear Materials, the Journal of the American Ceramic Society and the Journal of Nuclear Science and Technology.
In 2018, Lou was awarded the prestigious ANSTO CEO Award, jointly with the late Dr. Mark Reinhard, for his sustained research contribution. It is a measure of his scientific leadership and achievements within the Synroc program, that a commercial scale Synroc processing plant is currently under construction on the ANSTO site.
Lou leaves behind a legacy in terms of his science but also his attitude and approach to life.
Lou is survived by his wife of almost 50 years, Jan, daughter Julia, grandchildren Ben and Anna, son Michael and daughter-in-law Kate, grandchildren Lucy and Sophie, sister Margaret, brother-in-law Ken, and children Trevor and Carolyn.