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Emeritus Professor Mike Darnell

Colleagues will be sorry to learn of the death, on 13 September 2023, of Emeritus Professor Mike Darnell, former Professor of Electronic Engineering.

Mike gained early engineering qualifications through a sandwich course with the Marconi Company in Chelmsford, graduating with a first class honours, BTech, from Loughborough in 1963, gaining his PhD from Cambridge in 1968.

The first half of his career was spent at the Ministry of Defence, initially at the Admiralty Research Establishment where, by 1975, he was head of the section undertaking communications research by the Royal Navy.  A period on secondment to NATO followed and by 1980 he was back at the MoD in London as Assistant Director of Strategic Communications responsible for the UK’s interaction with NATO in communications electronics, as well as representing the UK on a number of international groups.

In 1980 Mike was appointed to a Lectureship in the newly formed Department of Electronics at the University of York where he was responsible for initiating research activity in communications as well as developing related areas of the undergraduate curriculum.  He was promoted to Senior Lecturer in 1982.  He was appointed Professor of Communication Engineering at the University of Hull in 1986 and joined the University of Leeds as Professor of Electronic Engineering in 1995.

His research activity on radio communication system design, signal processing and spectrum utilisation was key to the development of greater capacity and reliability of both military and commercial communications.  He led the Communications and Signal-Processing Group in the Department of Electronics and Electrical Engineering and was the founding Director of the Institute of Integrated Information Systems.  Gaining over £2m in research grants during his time at Leeds, he also produced more than 350 publications in books, journals and conference papers.

He promoted the Sino-British academic exchange and was successful in obtaining research grants from The British Council, The Royal Society and NSF of China, which supported a number of academic visits between Leeds and South-West Jiaotong University in Chengdu, China.  He was appointed as advisory professor of SWJTU in 1998, and was instrumental in the forging of close links between the two institutions which ultimately led to the formation of the SWJTU-Leeds Joint School in May 2014.

Mike was an outstanding and successful research supervisor and teacher during his career through his concern for the personal and career development of junior colleagues and his sympathetic understanding of students.  He retired in 2001 to devote more time to the company he formed with an academic colleague in 1990, HW Communications Limited, but continued to work part-time at Leeds both teaching and in research.  At the time of retirement the title and status of Emeritus Professor was conferred upon him.