Development & Alumni Relations Office 

Augustine McEvoy (died 20 January 2017, aged 74)

A full appreciation provided by Peter McEvoy (brother), can be found in the Irish Times.

The scientific author, teacher and international researcher Dr Augustine (Gus) McEvoy, died on 20 January 2017, in Lausanne, Switzerland.

The first of four sons in the McEvoy family, Gus was born on 22 August 1942, in Glynnview Avenue, Larne, County Antrim. His father James, was a grocer’s assistant and his mother Margaret (née McNally), taught piano.

Although the family circumstances were quite modest, the reforms of the post-war era (notably the 1947 Education Act) offered Gus – and his brothers James, Patrick and Peter and others of his generation – unprecedented opportunities for educational advancement.

After completing his secondary education at St MacNissi’s College, Garron Tower, Gus proceeded to Queen’s University Belfast, and gained his honours degree in physics in 1963. He was subsequently awarded a Fulbright scholarship to undertake a masters in science at the Catholic University of Washington DC. Returning to Ireland, he obtained his PhD in 1972 from what was then the New University of Ulster at Coleraine, before taking up appointments in Maynooth, the University of West Indies and in the Microelectronics Research Centre in University College Cork.

His year in Washington coincided with the race riots of 1968, which he witnessed at first hand as a Red Cross volunteer. This raw encounter with social injustice, and how the state responded to it, radicalised him. So too did the escalating troubles in Northern Ireland, motivating him to engage as an advocate for systemic reform and for adherence to the norms and standards of international human rights law.

A distinguished international academic career in teaching and research followed, initially at the Joint Research Centre of the European Commission in Ispra (Italy), and after that in Hamburg. He joined the staff of the Switzerland’s prestigious École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) in 1985, where he remained until his retirement in 2007, finding the Swiss environment conducive to professional and family life.

He was the author (or co-author) of 180 scientific publications primarily on photovoltaics and fuel cell technology. The Practical Handbook of Photovoltaics (2011), of which he was the editor-in-chief, is considered a benchmark publication for those involved in the design, manufacture and use of fuel cell devices internationally.

Gus is survived by his wife Colette (nee Gilleece), daughters Brenda, Caitriona and Fiona, sons-in-law Cyril and Flavio, grandchildren Columban, James and Seán and by his brothers Patrick (Derry) and Peter (Dublin). He was predeceased in 2010 by his brother Rev Prof James McEvoy.

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