David George Crighton
15 November 1942
|Died||12 April 2000 (aged 57)|
|Alma mater||St John's College, Cambridge|
|Known for||Fluid mechanics, acoustics|
|Awards||Fellow of the Royal Society|
Imperial College London
University of Leeds
University of Cambridge
|Thesis||Wave motion and vibration induced by turbulent flow (1968)|
|Doctoral advisor||John Ffowcs Williams|
Crighton was born in Llandudno, North Wales. His mother, Violet Grace Garrison, had been sent there because of the bombing of London during World War II. He didn't become interested in mathematics until his last two years at Watford Grammar School for Boys. He entered St John's College, Cambridge in 1961 and started lecturing at Woolwich Polytechnic (today University of Greenwich) in 1964, having completed only his bachelor's degree.
A few years later he met John Ffowcs Williams and started to work for him at Imperial College London, while simultaneously studying for his doctorate (awarded in 1969) at the same place. In 1974, he was appointed as a research fellow in the Department of Engineering at the University of Cambridge. However, he never took up this post, but instead accepted the chair in applied mathematics at the University of Leeds, which he held until 1986.
Later he became a well-loved Master of Jesus College (1997–2000), and was head of the Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics department (DAMTP) in Cambridge between 1991 and 2000, where he was held in huge regard by the faculty and students.
In his first paper, Crighton studied the sound wave associated with turbulent flow over a discontinuous surface formed by two semi-infinite flexible planes. Over the years he worked broadly in the fields of acoustics, equation theory and quasi-diabatic systems including solitons. This included works on the generalised Burgers' equation and inverse scattering theory.
The distinction of his work was recognised by the award of the Rayleigh Medal of the Institute of Acoustics, the Per Bruel Gold Medal of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers and the Otto Laporte Award of the American Physical Society.
The Institute of Mathematics and its Applications and the London Mathematical Society instituted the David Crighton Medal in 2002 in honour of Crighton. The award is made biennially, and was first presented in 2003. Holders of the medal include Frank Kelly, Peter Neumann, Keith Moffatt, Christopher Zeeman, John Ball, and David Abrahams.