James Hutton institute scientists killed in crash

TWO prominent scientists at one of Scotland’s leading agricultural research institutes have been named as the victims of a horrific fatal road crash in Aberdeenshire last Friday.

Dr Stewart Rhind, 61, and Dr Julian Dawson, 42, both worked at the Aberdeen-based James Hutton institute, an amalgamation of the Macaulay Land Use Research Institute and the Scottish Crop Research Institute.

The fatal collision happened shortly after 4pm on Friday when a silver Vauxhall Astra and a black Saab collided just north of Fordoun.

The two drivers, aged 58 and 39, sustained various fractures in the crash. The 39 year-old, who is also a member of staff at the Hutton, was take by ambulance to Dundee’s Ninewells Hospital and the 59 year-old was taken to Aberdeen Royal Infirmary. Their injuries were described as serious but not life threatening

A spokesman for the James Hutton Institute said: “It is with deep regret that we can confirm Dr Stewart Rhind and Dr Julian Dawson sadly lost their lives in the crash on the A90 last Friday night as they returned from a meeting in Stirling. Both were valued and respected colleagues who will be sorely missed.

“Stewart joined the Hill Farming Research Organisation, a predecessor of the current organisation in April, 1979, and worked at the institute ever since.

“During his years with us Stewart had conducted a wide range of research including nutrition and reproduction in sheep and cattle, cashmere production in goats, behaviour and welfare of red deer and the effects of endocrine disrupting compounds. He was also the postgraduate student liaison officer for the Aberdeen site.”

He continued: “Julian completed his PhD at Aberdeen University in 2000. He briefly worked at the Macaulay Land Use Research institute in the early 1990s and returned to work with us in 2010.

“The third member of staff involved in the accident has been released from hospital and we wish him a speedy recovery. We are continuing to offer whatever support we can to the families.”

Emeritus Professor John Robinson, one of the world’s leading experts on sheep nutrition and reproduction, described Dr Rhind’s death as an “immense loss to Scottish and world science.”

He said: “Stewart’s specialism was mammalian reproduction and his work also had a relevance to human health. This is such a tragedy. Stewart was such a stimulating chap to be in the company of and a nicer chap you could not find. He had contributed so much and I cannot speak highly enough of him and the work he did.

“He was a model student and a tremendous scientist. Throughout his career he stuck to the job of research, a role in which he excelled.”

The families of both scientists also spoke of their devastating loss.

The family of Dr Dawson said in a statement, released by Grampian Police: “Julian was a wonderful man. He will be very much missed by his wife, family and friends. His family ask to be left in peace at this difficult time.”

Dr Rhind’s wife, June, and daughters Joanna and Sarah said he had left them with a “wealth of wonderful memories.” In a family statement, they said: “Apart from his research work, his passions were his family, fishing, the natural world and bridge.Stewart’s family say he has left them with a wealth of wonderful memories and shaped their worlds, which will sustain them through the coming days and years.”

Richard Lochhead, the Scottish Rural Affairs Secretary, paid tribute to the two scientists at Holyrood. He told MSPs : “Today we are discussing food policy and, given that in taking this issue forward I often deal with the James Hutton Institute, can I use this opportunity to say how sorry I am to hear that the institute has lost two talented and valued colleagues in a recent tragic car accident.

“I know I speak for the whole chamber when I offer our condolences to the families and friends of Dr Stewart Rhind and Dr Julian Dawson, and to all of their colleagues at the institute.”