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Doug Lampard


Full Name: Douglas Geoffrey Lampard

Original Appointment at Monash: Chair of Electrical Engineering

Date of Application: 1961

Date of Commencement: 1962

Date of Retirement: May 1990

Douglas Lampard was born on 4 May 1927. After finishing his secondary education at North Sydney Boys High School, he went on to study at the University of Sydney, graduating with a Bachelor of Science, attaining First Class Honours in Physics, in 1951.

After gaining a Master of Science in Physics also from the University of Sydney, Lampard went overseas on a studentship working and studying for his PhD in the Department of Electrical Engineering at the University of Cambridge. He completed his PhD in 1954 – his area of research being the theoretical and experimental methods associated with random electrical fluctuations. Lampard then spent time as a visiting lecturer at Columbia University New York, before returning to Australia in 1955.

Lampard was briefly appointed Chair of Electrical Engineering at the University of New South Wales in August 1960, but resigned soon after, taking up a position at CSIRO in 1961. Lampard was working as Principal Research Officer in the Division of Electrotechnology at CSIRO, Sydney when he was offered a professorship in electrical engineering at Monash University. Lampard was in fact the first of this new group of Engineering Foundation Professors to be appointed.

lampard offer letter

On the recommendation of the Monash University Council Committee on the Chairs of Engineering – which was established specifically to appoint the four foundation chairs in the Faculty – Hunt wrote to Lampard offering him the appointment in 1961. Lampard replied to Hunt expressing his humble gratitude at being offered the position. He also communicated a number of concerns as well as a series of conditions upon which his acceptance of the post was conditional. One of Lampard’s primary concerns was the level of resources that would be available to him and whether they would be enough to support another academic staff member in his area. Hunt forwarded Lampard’s letter to Vice-Chancellor Louis Matheson who replied to Lampard that the University would employ an additional senior lecturer in electrical engineering and provide about £25,000 in research support. Matheson wrote:

I know this is still not a very satisfactory offer and I will do my best to see that it is improved on if at all possible. On the other hand, in spite of all our present difficulties, Monash is a very exciting and stimulating place to work in and there is no doubt that in a few years you will have a thriving Department which you yourself will have created. In the meantime if there is rather a lot of Churchill’s ‘blood, toil, tears and sweat’ then the final result will be so much more rewarding.

Another of Lampard’s major concerns was that the Faculty of Engineering was not, at the time he was offered the position, planning to have departments. To Lampard, this was highly problematic – an issue that resonated his brief and troublesome period at the University of New South Wales. His concern translated to one of the stipulated conditions of appointment. Lampard simply would not accept the professorship in electrical engineering if it did not come with a stand alone department of electrical engineering that he himself would head. After a period of negotiation Matheson agreed. Hunt’s original plan for an engineering faculty with no departments was disbanded. Lampard would head a Department of Electrical Engineering and others were set to follow.

Lampard officially accepted the position in 1962 and immediately travelled overseas as an officer of the University, with the aim of recruiting staff and acquainting himself with the latest teaching methods in the field of electrical engineering. While Lampard was overseas, arrangements were made – mostly by his wife – for their relocation from Sydney to Melbourne.

Lampard’s first trip overseas on behalf of the Faculty and University was far from his last. In 1965 he was awarded the Sperry Award for Distinguished Achievement, which he travelled to Los Angeles to receive – his trip funded by a combination of university funding and private donations from the local electrical industry. He took his first period of study leave in 1966, travelling with his family to Palo Alto, as well as Texas, Michigan and Wisconsin. During this time Lampard also spent three months as a visiting professor at Stanford University and two months as a visiting professor at the University of California, Berkeley. While he was in America he was offered a Commonwealth Visiting Professorship in the UK for 1967–68 at the universities of Sussex and Warwick. However, Lampard was hesitant about accepting the offer, being reluctant to leave his department again while it was still in its establishment phase. He asked for the offer to be postponed. Later he wrote:

You will remember perhaps that while on sabbatical leave at the end of 1966, I received an invitation from two British universities (Sussex and Warwick) inviting me to come to Britain as a Commonwealth Visiting Professor. Although I was encouraged to accept the invitation by the Vice Chancellor, I declined it on the basis that it would entail me being away from Monash for a further twelve months (in 1967) shortly after returning from six months sabbatical leave in the USA, which situation I did not think fair to Monash University.

lampard at table

In early 1968 Lampard attended a conference on Systems Science in Hawaii, and in 1969, he was away again, this time as visiting professor for six months in the Physiology Department at Bristol University. During the periods that Lampard was away, Karol Morsztyn acted as the Head of Electrical Engineering. Indeed the two ended up alternating yearly as Head of Department as a result of Lampard’s overseas engagements.

Lampard spent between July 1975 and January 1976 at the University of Queensland in Brisbane. He later travelled overseas again, this time as part of the Outside Studies Program (OSP) to Shanghai Jiao Tong University in China in 1987. Lampard was also offered a visiting fellowship at Corpus Christi College, Cambridge in 1988.

Lampard’s research interests were very much related to neuroscience and muscle physiology, as well as electronics, control systems, telecommunication and wave propagation. Lampard established a Biophysics Laboratory in order to pursue the application of telecommunications ideas to an understanding of parts of the nervous system. Together with Steve Redman, with guidance from the Professor of Physiology at Monash, Lampard made major contributions in neuroscience and muscle physiology. He received numerous honours and awards throughout his career, most notably in 1977 when he was elected a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science.

Lampard retired from Monash in May 1990, and passed away four years later on 1 September 1994. The Douglas Lampard Electrical Engineering Research Medal for the best PhD thesis in any year was instituted in his honour. He is remembered as a man of many talents.


  1. Monash University Archives, Douglas Lampard Staff File
  2. Faculty of Engineering 50th Anniversary Survey Results
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