Professor Tom Horlick-Jones
14 January 2015
With great sadness we announce that our friend and colleague Professor Tom Horlick-Jones died on Monday 12 January 2015.
Tom was a rarity amongst social scientists for having a degree in maths (as well as his PhD in Sociology) and for spending roughly a decade working in civil service roles before entering the world of academia. During his time as a senior policy adviser in public sector administration Tom was awarded a Winston Churchill Fellowship for his work on emergency planning and disaster management.
Before joining the School of Social Sciences at Cardiff University in 2000, Tom held academic posts at the London School of Economics and the University of Surrey. He was also a visiting scientist at CIEMAT-CISOT in Barcelona, and an honorary senior research associate in the Department of Science and Technology Studies at University College London. Tom specialised in investigating risk-related behaviour, and associated reasoning, communication and decision-making processes.
Tom carried out important policy work and advised many organisations, including: the World Health Organization, European Commission, European Fusion Development Agreement (EFDA), UK Environment Agency, UK Food Standards Agency, UK Health & Safety Executive, H.M. Nuclear Installations Inspectorate, UK Home Office, the Post Office Group, Railtrack, Railway Safety & Standards Board, Science Museum, Welsh Assembly Government, Sciencewise and UK Department of Business, Innovation and Skills.
Tom was especially known for his research and publications on the everyday negotiation of risk in practice. Although this was challenging and theoretically sophisticated work he also managed to communicate it very successfully to non-specialists in his teaching. Tom produced over 100 publications throughout his career, including the books Natural Risk and Civil Protection (lead editor, Spon, 1995), Social Amplification of Risk: the Media and the Public (co-author, HSE Books, 2001) and The GM Debate: Risk, Politics and Public Engagement (lead author, Routledge, 2007; paperback 2009). A sociologist through and through, when undergoing cancer treatment he could not resist writing a paper about the process for Sociology of Health and Illness.
Tom was also an excellent teacher and a dedicated PhD supervisor. His students spoke very highly of the support he offered them, and of the care he took to listen as well as to offer wise advice.
Tom retired from the University in the summer of 2014. In October we were delighted to welcome him back to the School, together with his wife Miranda, to celebrate his academic career and to share time with colleagues.
Professor Amanda Coffey, speaking on behalf of the School, said: "It was an honour and a pleasure to work with Tom. He was a truly lovely man, a distinguished scholar and a good colleague. He will be very sadly missed by all his colleagues and friends at the University. Our thoughts are with Miranda, his family and many friends"