With sadness, we have learnt that Nick Pace passed away in early July. Professor Emeritus in underwater acoustics, Nick joined the University of Bath and the Department of Physics in 1973. He created the underwater acoustics laboratory and tank room in 1 West, leading through the years a very strong programme of research and applications with other universities, government agencies and industries. Nick created the decadal series of international conferences in underwater acoustics taking place at Bath since 1983.
In the mid-1990s, Nick was invited to lead a research division at the NATO Undersea Research Centre (then known as SACLANTCEN) in La Spezia, Italy. After nearly 10 years, he came back to his beloved Bath, where he co-chaired in 2005 the international conference on "Boundary influences in high-frequency, shallow-water acoustics". Known throughout the world as an expert acoustician, Nick has left a strong mark in many domains of underwater physics and acoustics, contributing to the international reputation of Physics at Bath.
Nick was an internationally recognised expert in underwater acoustics, recipient of the Tyndall Medal of the Institute of Acoustics (in 1990), Fellow of the institute of Acoustics (UK) and Fellow of Acoustical Society of America. He is widely published in many international journals and has many conference papers in the open literature. His work is frequently cited in others’ papers, even several decades later, and he holds a number of patents, particularly from his collaboration with his former student, Jacques Guigné, CEO of Acoustic Zoom and Visiting Professor at the University of Bath. Nick was frequently called upon to conduct research for the Admiralty Scientific branches of the MoD (AUWE, ARE, DRA, DERA) where he was well known and highly respected. This research included many studies on various aspects of sediment acoustics, over a wide range of frequencies, but also included projects investigating shallow water acoustic propagation and bubble acoustics. At NATO, he led teams investigating environmental acoustics, mine countermeasure sonar, force protection and seafloor mapping. He and his team also developed techniques for accurate ground truthing, including stereo photography and CT scanning.
The scientific legacy of Nick’s work is clearly visible in the achievements of his former students and colleagues. He will also be fondly remembered for his enthusiasm in explaining difficult concepts to younger colleagues, expecting them to understand (and/or work hard to understand it) and for his hospitality and friendliness. For example, Professor Sir Duncan Wingham (PhD, 1984) is now Executive Chair of the Natural Environment Research Council in the UK. His fondest and most immediate memory was of being invited to his PhD supervisor’s home for dinner. Very impressed, and afraid of any social faux-pas, Duncan was greeted at the door by Nick holding the hand of a small child, windmilling him around and telling his new student: “After you’ve had several, you realise they’re quite robust”.
Professor Gary Heald (PhD, 2000), until recently Senior Principal Scientist at the Defence Science and Technical Laboratory (Dstl) remembers Nick was always happiest when building innovative equipment and testing it in the real world, in oceans and in other water bodies. Professor Jacques Guigné (PhD, 1986; DSc, 2014) remembers how Nick supported his ideas for innovative seismic imaging, leading to an industry game-changer, and how his PhD with Nick also led to experiments being flown on the International Space Station. Some of Nick’s early sonars are now on display at We The Curious, the Bristol science museum. Nick was a warm and friendly colleague, always ready to talk and explain, always ready to lead by the strength of his example. Nick’s funeral will be held on Friday 22 July 2022 at 1.30pm at St Mary's Church, at the bottom of Bathwick Hill. Friends and former colleagues are all welcome.