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Personal profile


Dr Cottey is a physicist who has been at UEA since 1965, employed as a lecturer in Physics (to 1998) and, after early retirement, as an Honorary Fellow and part time Teacher in Physics. He has continued his association with UEA as an honorary Senior Fellow in the School of Chemistry. His earlier research was in solid state physics, specialising in low-dimensional systems, especially thin films, before nanotechnology became widely studied, or the term even coined.

He later took a special interest in nuclear physics education and taught the subject by attending to the applications as well as the basic physics and treating the former in an even-handed way, that is, by not excluding military applications. He has published some papers on nuclear physics education.

He also studies and writes on the social responsibility of the scientist and in addition designed and convened a course for natural science students on 'science, values and ethics'. A special interest for him in this broad field is open science and the route whereby knowledge claims enter the canon of widely accepted scientific knowledge.   

Dr Cottey is Secretary of the Martin Ryle Trust and was a member of the organising group of the annual Martin Ryle lecture. In his later years Sir Martin (1918 - 1984) turned his attention from astronomy to wind energy, nuclear power, nuclear weapons and related policy issues. In 2018 Dr Cottey was engaged in memorialising this phase of Ryle's work. Dr Cottey is also an active member of Scientists for Global Responsibility.

In 2020 he embarked on a study of the new genre in science outreach, "scientists' warnings", in which scientists sound the alarm about the extreme dangers from human disturbance of Earth's ecological balance. Dr Cottey is specially concerned with the question how to frame the unpalatable messages so that they are heard and acted upon.


  • Textbooks
  • nuclear physics
  • Science (General)
  • open science, responsibility
  • Physics