Tribute: Dr Augustine ‘Gus’ McEvoy

Dr Augustine McEvoy.
Dr Augustine McEvoy.

The Larne community and farther afield have been saddened by the recent passing of Dr. Augustine McEvoy.

A native of Larne, Dr McEvoy died in Lausanne, Switzerland, on January 20.

The first of four sons, Augustine (known as Gus) was born in 1942 in Glynnview Avenue, to James, a grocer’s

assistant with Barnett’s, Main Street, and Margaret (née McNally), who taught piano.

After completing secondary education at St. MacNissi’s College, Garron Tower, Gus proceeded to Queen’s University, 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. His year in Washington coincided with the race riots of 1968, which he witnessed at first hand as a Red Cross volunteer.

Returning to Ireland, he obtained his PhD in 1972, from the New University of Ulster at Coleraine, before taking up academic appointments in Physics in Maynooth, University of West Indies, and University College Cork (Microelectronics Research Centre).

A distinguished international academic career in teaching and research followed, initially at the European Commission Research Centre in Ispra (Italy) and then in Hamburg. He joined the staff of Switzerland’s prestigious École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) in 1985 where he remained until retirement in 2007.

In addition to graduate supervision and teaching, Gus was the author (or co-author) of some 180 scientific publications, especially 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, and has been translated into Chinese. In retirement he remained busy with consultancy and conferences on alternative energy. His expertise in the important policy area of alternative energy technology was sought by the Swiss Federal Government, International Energy Agency and the European Science Foundation.

But achievements in the professional domain were considered by Gus as secondary to his overriding priority – family.

Gus, who was pre-deceased in 2010 by his brother Rev. Prof. James McEvoy (Belfast), is survived by his wife Colette (ne Gilleece), daughters Brenda, Caitriona and Fiona, sons-in- law (Cyril and Flavio), grandchildren (Columban, James and Sen), and brothers Patrick (Derry) and Peter (Dublin).