Royal Society Publishing

Sir Robert William Kerr Honeycombe KBE. 2 May 1921—14 September 2007

R. E. Smallman


Although Robert Honeycombe was born in Melbourne, Australia, where he received his university education and gained valuable research experience at the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, it was in the UK that his distinguished career developed. At Sheffield he harnessed the newly emerging technique of transmission electron microscopy to the microstructural study of alloy steels. Moving to Cambridge, he built up a world-renowned team in this area. His seminal work was the characterization of interphase precipitation at the α/γboundary interface, which had a perceptible impact on the production of micro-alloyed steels throughout the world. As Goldsmiths' Professor of Metallurgy he was the longest-serving head of the department, broadening its coverage into material science to include ceramics and polymers as well as reinforcing the traditional areas of mechanical behaviour and processing. All these activities were underpinned by state-of-the-art microstructural characterization. Robert had an open and warm personality and was a natural leader of the profession within the university, in learned societies and in government and research council bodies. Above all he was a great supporter of young researchers, not only at Cambridge but also throughout the country.