It’s been an interesting week. I’m a little reticent about this being the subject of my first post as I’m not sure I can properly do the subject justice, but it seems disingenuous not to try.

This week saw a symposium held in honour of Philip Batchelor. Philip was a a researcher in the field of medical imaging who spent a lot of time at UCL, King’s, and St Thomas’s hospital. He was a mathematician who contributed to many different aspects of imaging with a lot of focus on MRI, and he was well known and liked by the UK diffusion MR community. Tragically, Philip died in a climbing accident in 2011.

I knew Philip. I wouldn’t say we were close, but he was a colleague who would often go to the same seminars and coferences as I would, and he collaborated closely with people in my group. It was hard not to like him, he had a mixture of stoicism and wit that was difficult to ignore and his mathematical skill meant he was always someone to listen to.

What was surprising at the seminar on Wednesday was how widely he published and just what an impressive impact his work had. Working no just in diffusion, but in other forms of MRI Philip had brought an impressive level of rigour to a subject that can sometimes lack it. What was impressive, although less surprising, was how well-liked he was. People were literally queuing up to talk about how much they liked him. It was hard not to be moved by it.

The seminar wasn’t just retrospective, though. Several presentations talked about new work based on Philip’s, and here we found something quite surprising: one of the talks seems ideal for my new project. Something I had only vaguely heard of, that uses rigorous ideas that extend approaches Philip used on problems that would have interested him. New beginnings.

So, Philip – I raise my glass to you and send my thanks. I’m not the first to say you’ll be missed.

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