Douglas Geoffrey Lampard 1927-1994

Written by Stephen J. Redman.


Douglas Geoffrey Lampard was born in Sydney on 4 May 1927 at the Royal Women's Hospital, Paddington. He was the only child of Edward Geoffrey Lampard and Violet Evangeline Lampard, née Moxon. Both of Doug's parents were the children of Anglican clergy, his father being the son of Archdeacon Lampard, of Lismore, and his mother the daughter of Archdeacon Moxon, of Grafton. Doug's father graduated in engineering from the University of Sydney in 1928 after serving in the Australian Flying Corps during the First World War. He became Chief Airbrake Engineer with the New South Wales Railways. Doug's mother had trained as a kindergarten teacher.

Doug's early years were spent in Sydney's northern suburbs, initially in Chatswood and then in Gordon. He grew up in a home with modest but comfortable living standards, under the guidance of well educated and caring parents. As he grew older, he showed an absorbing interest in mechanical and electrical equipment, and great skills in the use of workshop tools.

School years

Doug attended Chatswood and Gordon Primary Schools and he was selected to attend Artarmon Opportunity School in its second intake of pupils. From there he attended North Sydney Boys' High School, a selective and high-achieving school, from 1940 to 1944. At high school, Doug showed exceptional ability in physics and chemistry, especially in practical work. He was a nonconformist and concentrated on those activities of school life that took his interest. These did not include the Army Cadet Corps, which had a high profile during the war years. Nor was he interested in sport. The school was ruled by Robert Harvey, a famous headmaster at the time, who provided for his students a liberal curriculum including Latin, Greek, French, German, History, Music and Economics, as well as English, Mathematics, Physics and Chemistry. Doug always appreciated and respected this broad education. Harvey was a strict disciplinarian and all school days were prefaced by assembly, sometimes with a homily from the headmaster about any perceived slackening of effort. The assembled students then marched off to classes to the stirring strains of 'Colonel Bogey' or a similar marching tune. Doug was responsible for the sound amplification system and one of his hobbies was tinkering with this system to improve the quality of the sound. On his final day of school before sitting for the Leaving Certificate examinations, Doug substituted his own music and played 'When the saints go marching in'. This caused a minor riot and brought on the wrath of the headmaster.

At home, Doug built and repaired audio systems, power supplies and radios. Carpentry was another hobby. He became a projectionist at Gordon Cinema and an enthusiastic follower of traditional jazz, although he refused to learn to play any musical instruments. Sydney Harbour was a great attraction and he regularly sailed in VJ races on Middle Harbour.

University of Sydney

Doug began his university education at the University of Sydney in March 1945, enrolling in the Faculty of Engineering. In those days, the first two years of an engineering degree were the same for all branches of engineering. After two years as an engineering student, Doug decided to work for a year and he joined CSIR (now CSIRO), in the Electrotechnology Division of the National Standards Laboratory. He was employed as a Technical Assistant, working on microwave measurement techniques. (He had previously worked in this Division as a summer student while enrolled in Engineering). The exposure he had to research during this period convinced him that his scientific interests were in mathematics and physics, and on returning to the University of Sydney in 1948 he transferred to the Faculty of Science. He graduated with first-class honours in physics in May 1951.

Doug enjoyed his undergraduate years. He had a wide circle of friends studying engineering, medicine and science. He became interested in physiology and attended lectures given to medical students. He developed his interest in traditional jazz music, learning to play the washboard and then the banjo. He became an enthusiastic member of the Sydney University Film Society. His interests in electrical equipment and jazz music led to his involvement as a projectionist, and as a presenter of recorded jazz music.

CSIRO and Cambridge

Doug returned to the National Standards Laboratory, after graduation in February 1951, as a Research Officer. He worked in Dr David Hollway's group on K-band microwave spectroscopy. This work was written up for an MSc degree with the University of Sydney in a thesis entitled 'The development of a microwave spectroscope and some problems connected with its sensitivity', and the degree was awarded in May 1952. In June 1952 Doug was awarded a CSIRO overseas studentship for two years, to attend the University of Cambridge. He studied in the Electrical Engineering Department under the supervision of Professor E.B. Moullin, his PhD thesis being entitled 'Some theoretical and experimental investigations of random electrical fluctuations'. Random electrical fluctuations (or electrical noise) were of central interest to the research staff in the National Standards Laboratory, as they often limited the accuracy of electrical measurements. He was awarded the PhD degree by the University of Cambridge in November 1954.

Doug's two years in Cambridge were remarkably productive and busy ones. It was very unusual (and still is) for anyone to complete a PhD in two years. His research led to several seminal publications on electrical noise and stochastic process. His college was Corpus Christi which he chose because of a family association, his paternal grandfather, Archdeacon Lampard, having studied Greek and mathematics there in the latter part of the nineteenth century. While at Cambridge, Doug served as a member of the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research (DSIR) Committee on Atmospheric Noise at the request of the chairman, J.A. Ratcliffe of the Cavendish Laboratory. He also taught mathematics at Cambridge Technical College in the evenings, to help finance his studies. The interest he had shown in physiology at the University of Sydney developed further when he attended lecture courses on 'The Electrical Activity of the Nervous System', given in the Physiology Department at Cambridge by Professor Alan Hodgkin and Dr William Rushton.

Doug was then invited to spend three months (October 1954 – January 1955) as a visiting lecturer in the Electrical Engineering Department at Columbia University, New York, where he taught a postgraduate course in 'Stochastic Processes and Noise Theory'. He was offered a position in this department, which he declined because of his commitments to CSIRO. He returned to Australia and to the National Standards Laboratory in March 1955. On being reappointed as a Research Officer, his supervisor (Dr Fred Lehany) noted that 'Lampard has made excellent use of his studentship and has established himself widely as a successful research worker in the general field of information theory and the statistical treatment of signals in the presence of noise'.

Following Doug's return to the National Standards Laboratory, he became involved in calculating the capacitance of a succession of geometrical shapes that Dr Mel Thompson believed could be accurately constructed and defined so that their physical dimensions could be measured with sufficient accuracy. The results of some of these calculations on quite different cross-sectional profiles agreed with each other so closely that the suspicion arose that a general expression for their capacitance existed that was independent of cross-sectional profile. Doug discovered this identity, and it appeared in a paper entitled 'A new theorem in electrostatics with applications to calculable standards of capacitance', published in the Proceedings of the Institution of Electrical Engineers in 1957. This paper described what was probably Doug's most important single scientific work. It ultimately led to the development of a capacitance standard with an accuracy of about 1 part in 100 million, which was more than 100 times more accurate than the best capacitance standard at that time. This allowed the standard ohm to be redefined. In the field of electrical measurements, it was a major advance. The theorem (which is usually referred to in texts on electrostatics as the Lampard Capacitance Theorem) became the mainstay for establishing the absolute SI unit of resistance in every national standards laboratory for many decades. Doug was awarded the Heaviside Premium by the Institution of Electrical Engineers, London, in 1957 for this work. In 1965, Doug and Mel Thompson were jointly awarded the Albert F. Sperry Medal by the Instrument Society of America for their work on calculable standards of capacitance.

In the midst of this activity, Doug and Dr Ian Harvey were building a 'probability distribution analyser'. This device was to be used for investigations on random electrical noise. Nowadays electronic measurements of the probability density of amplitudes or of time intervals are commonplace, but at that time it was completely novel. Its key component was an electrostatic memory constructed on the screen of a normal cathode-ray tube so as to provide 64 channels, each of 15-bit capacity. Doug teamed up with Peter Bishop and Bill Levick in the Physiology Department at the University of Sydney to use this machine for the measurement of the probability density of the time intervals between successive nerve impulses in the firing pattern of retinal ganglion cells. At the time, it was believed that sensory information was encoded in the fine temporal structure of neuronal discharge. This first measurement of such temporal detail, reported in Nature in 1961, caused much excitement and stimulated many overseas laboratories to attempt similar measurements.

University of New South Wales

In August 1960, Doug was appointed to a newly created Chair of Electrical Engineering at the University of New South Wales, specifically in the field of communications engineering. It was to be a short appointment as he resigned in August 1961. Doug believed that he was not given the freedom and independence appropriate for a professorial appointment to develop teaching and research in his area of responsibility. When the issue could not be resolved to his satisfaction with senior university officers, he returned to the Division of Electrotechnology in CSIRO, from which he had been on long-term leave, as a Principal Research Officer. This experience was a painful one for Doug but it was not without rewards. He attracted around him some recent graduates in engineering and mathematics (Nhan Levan, Tony Stuart, David Montgomery, David Robinson and Stephen Redman) who were enrolled for Master's degrees. They all responded positively to Doug's enthusiasm and research guidance, and formed a lively research group. Two of them, Levan and Redman, were to follow Doug to Monash University and become his first PhD students. Doug also enjoyed his interactions with these research students very much, and this experience convinced him that his future research should be conducted in a university environment.

Monash University

Doug was appointed to the foundation Chair of Electrical Engineering at Monash University in August 1962. Prior to taking up this appointment, he spent three months in the Engineering School at Purdue University, Indiana. This was one of the largest engineering schools in the USA and his experience there, as well as at the University of New South Wales, were important in developing his ideas on how to create a modern department of electrical engineering. When he arrived at Monash at the end of 1962, the university had been in existence for only a short time, and the most advanced engineering undergraduates were in their second year. This was a splendid opportunity for Doug to work in a new university that had to grow rapidly and establish its own ethos. From the outset, and mindful of his previous experience at the University of New South Wales, Doug insisted upon having complete independence in developing the electrical engineering department. It was an exciting and frantic time. A new building had to be equipped, new courses developed, new laboratories commissioned, new staff appointed and research activities commenced. Only a few months' lead time was available to establish the third-year courses.

Doug attacked this challenge with great enthusiasm and energy. His leadership was outstanding. He recruited excellent academic staff and encouraged them quickly to establish strong research programmes. Doug's approach to undergraduate course design and tuition was to place great emphasis on the fundamentals of engineering science. The technology of the day was only of passing interest. All students, regardless of the field in which they wished to specialize, had to study across the whole field of electrical engineering, including power engineering, electronics, communications and control systems. The core subjects in each year were always presented in conjunction with a solid laboratory component. Doug could often be found among the undergraduates while they were engaged in laboratory work, asking questions, encouraging them, and helping them to put their work into a wider context. He taught a generation of electrical engineers and all were touched by his enthusiasm for his discipline. While he was intellectually formidable, he was an excellent lecturer, patient and helpful and with a genuine concern for the welfare of his students.

Events moved quickly on the research front in the early days of Doug's appointment. Within two years of his arrival at Monash, Doug was supervising eight PhD students, all of whom had done their undergraduate studies at other universities, at a time when it was relatively new for engineering graduates to be interested in research careers. His research interests at that time were concentrated on circuit theory and stochastic processes applied to communication systems. Doug was one of the first to study problems in circuit theory and signal theory using the time-domain approach. This was due to his interest in the response of systems to stochastic signals. He developed the first electrical circuit realization of a discrete shift operator and this became the central idea in the analysis and synthesis of a class of N-port networks. Other contributions that he made to circuit theory included active network synthesis, filter and amplifier design, networks with randomly varying parameters and inhomogeneous ladder networks. Doug sought analytical solutions, and he had uncanny insights into how problems should be formulated such that they led to analytical solutions. He was not very interested in numerical solutions. He encouraged others with interests in the design of electronic equipment, and he ensured that the new department was well provided with mechanical and electronics workshops staffed by excellent technicians. Doug's research reputation quickly became legendary within the academic and scientific community associated with electrical engineering, both nationally and internationally. The department attracted many international visitors and many PhD students. Research seminars were weekly events, with Doug giving many of them himself. His research influence was theoretically and scientifically orientated, rather than the more usual technological research activities of most engineering departments.

Another important research and teaching activity that Doug initiated in those early days was biomedical engineering. As a student, Doug had shown a keen interest in neurophysiology. Later, as we have seen, he had collaborated with Peter Bishop and Bill Levick on characterizing the temporal discharge patterns of retinal ganglion cells. One of Doug's students from his period at the University of New South Wales, Stephen Redman, followed him to Monash as a lecturer and joined him in this enterprise. They established a neurophysiology laboratory for studying spinal reflexes and were given much encouragement by the Professor of Physiology, Archie McIntyre, an eminent neurophysiologist. They also benefited from the advice of Jack Coombs, who spent a year's study leave with them in 1964-65. Jack had worked for many years with Sir John Eccles, in Dunedin and then at the ANU, on spinal cord neurophysiology. It was a very novel activity for engineers to undertake, and it was not without its sceptics. Doug's laboratory skills and his interest in surgical procedures were important in the success of this project. This research led to papers in Nature and the Journal of Neurophysiology describing the discharge response of motorneurones when they were activated by electrical stimulation of peripheral nerves in a more physiological manner than had been used hitherto.

Following this work, Doug became interested in neuropharmacology, muscle mechanics, and then anaesthesia. His interest in various aspects of anaesthesia became his major research activity for the remainder of his academic career. The initial project was to use a computer for the multivariable control of respiration and anaesthesia based on the measured levels of signals such as end-tidal CO2, blood pressure and inspired oxygen concentration. The ideas were extended to the computer control of neuro-muscular block using the integrated electromyogram (IEMG) as a measure of muscle relaxation. An IEMG monitor was developed into a commercial device and used for clinical purposes. There followed many years of work in muscle relaxation and the effects of hypothermia on cerebral blood flow, all based on the computer control work, At one stage full cardiopulmonary bypass and deep hypothermia procedures were being carried out on dogs in the department's laboratories, using expertise Doug had learnt from anaesthetists and surgeons. His main collaborators were two Melbourne anaesthetists, Drs Noel Cass and Kester Brown, and two electrical engineering colleagues from his own department, Drs Bill Brown and Kim Ng. Doug became a widely respected researcher amongst the anaesthetic research community. In November 1972 he became an Honorary Member of the Australian Society of Anaesthetists and in 1976 he was made an Honorary Fellow of the Faculty of Anaesthetists of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons for 'distinguished research contributions to anaesthesia'.

For twenty-one of his twenty-eight years at Monash, Doug was chairman of the Electrical Engineering Department. He was a strong voice on the Engineering Faculty Board, on the Professorial Board, and at other forums within the university. He was a staunch defender of the ideals of outstanding scholarship and intellectual integrity, and he was highly critical of the trend towards allowing managerial issues to determine outcomes. He had little respect for university policy makers whose positions were not based on solid academic achievements, and he had no interest in university politics. He disliked petty administrative work and he could be relied on not to do it. He always fought strongly for a good deal for his own department, and he was intensely loyal to his staff. He was a very direct person to deal with, and no one could be in any doubt about where they stood with him.

Doug retired from Monash University in 1990. The event was marked by a gathering of most of his former research students, many of whom travelled from overseas. All gave seminars on their research work. The common thread throughout two days of talks was the outstanding research training and example that Doug had provided his students at a formative stage of their careers, and how grateful they all were for his guidance. Subsequently a group composed mostly of the PhD and MEngSc graduates of the department banded together to fund the establishment of the Douglas Lampard Electrical Engineering Research Prize and Medal. This is now awarded annually to the department's top PhD candidate for the year.

Doug was to receive many honours and awards throughout his academic career. Some have already been mentioned, The most important was his election as a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science in 1977. He was elected to Fellowships in the main professional bodies for electrical engineering, including the Institution of Electrical Engineers, London; the American Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers; the Institution of Radio and Electrical Engineers, Australia; the Institution of Engineers, Australia; and the Australian Institute of Physics. He was on the Board of Directors of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers in 1970-71 and received a Centennial Medal from this Institute in 1984 'in recognition of his outstanding contributions to the profession of Electrical Engineering'.

Recreational activities: Hot jazz, perfumery and analytical chemistry

Doug listed his recreational activities (in Who's Who, 1994) as hot jazz, perfumery and analytical chemistry. He was passionately fond of jazz music. His parents were very musical but he resisted all their suggestions that he learn to play a musical instrument. At high school, he developed an interest in traditional jazz and began to collect recordings. This interest continued to develop while he was an undergraduate at the University of Sydney. He started to participate in jazz groups, first by playing the washboard, then the banjo. He found the conventional fingering arrangements for chords on the banjo to be very awkward, so he designed his own tuning system to provide a fingering arrangement to suit himself. This gave a distinctive sound to his banjo. He played in a Sydney group called the Ross Street Ramblers. He would regularly leave Sydney on Boxing Day for the Australian Jazz Festival, wherever it was held. Playing with jazz groups was a great relaxation for him. While on leave at Purdue University in Lafayette, Indiana, he played in Chicago with a well known group called 'The Salty Dogs'. In Melbourne, he belonged to a group called 'Drs Jazz', so named because most of its members had either PhD's or medical degrees. This group played at Doug's memorial service in the Monash University Chapel in September 1994.

As a schoolboy, Doug's favourite subject was chemistry. His decision to enrol in engineering rather than in chemistry had been a difficult one, made at the last minute. In later life he was to return to his enjoyment of chemistry. He built a large analytical chemistry laboratory beneath his house. It was superbly equipped. Doug would attend auctions (or tender a bid) for equipment and chemicals when commercial laboratories were being closed down. He was able to obtain some amazing bargains. At first Doug started making cosmetics and perfumes. This occurred at the time when his two daughters had reached the age when they needed these items. It was not uncommon for Doug to bring some of his perfumes into work to test their popularity. He formulated a large number of floral perfumes that met family approval and were most acceptable as Christmas presents for friends and colleagues. This interest led to his being consulted by several small manufacturing businesses that did not employ trained chemists. His curiosity about the constituents of wine that were responsible for their different flavours led him to study wine chemistry. He lived close to the Yarra Valley vineyards where a large number of small hobby vineyards, together with large commercial operations, had been established. Doug became the wine chemist consultant to many of the wine makers in the region and he interacted personally with them. Many of the small boutique wineries were managed by people with no scientific training, and Doug was able to give them crash courses in wine chemistry. He enjoyed his interactions with the vignerons and he also enjoyed tasting the end-products of his advice and analysis. From these local contacts, his reputation spread, and by the time he retired from Monash, he had built up a consulting practice with more than sixty wineries in Australia and New Zealand. During a short period he spent on study leave in Cambridge in 1988, he visited wineries in both England and France, and spent some time in the laboratory of one of the major champagne makers in France.

Doug's consulting activities also extended to the veterinary profession, where he gave advice on the design of veterinary equipment for field work and for the operating theatre.

Family life

Doug married Roslyn Crane on 18 April 1956. Roslyn was the only daughter of Ernest George Ekins Crane and Frances Elsie Crane (née Dutton) of Epping, New South Wales. They met at the University of Sydney in the late '40s, where Roslyn completed a Science degree in 1950, majoring in chemistry and biochemistry. Roslyn became Medical Librarian at Royal North Shore Hospital. They lived in Gordon, and had two daughters, Deborah Ann (born 1 May 1957) and Amanda Frances (born 7 November 1959). After the move to Melbourne in 1962, they lived at Croydon, in a house perched on the side of a hill with an easterly aspect. This arrangement gave Doug the opportunity to excavate under the house and build workshops, his analytical chemistry laboratory and a spacious office. These facilities allowed him to pursue many of his scientific interests at home. Both daughters attended Monash University and graduated in Science with honours, Deborah in mathematics and Amanda in immunology. Thus they became the fourth generation of Lampards to graduate in either science or engineering. Roslyn returned to medical library work, first at Dandenong Hospital and later at Lilydale Bush Nursing Hospital.

Doug's hobbies were largely home-based. This meant that he spent much of his leisure time at home – building, extending, making perfumes and cosmetics, and doing chemical assays for local wineries. He was very attentive to his daughters and gave them lots of encouragement and assistance with their school and university studies. Deborah became interested in horse riding as a teenager, and while Doug had no interest in riding, he regularly accompanied Deborah to wherever the horses were agisted. His interests in physiology and pharmacology often came into play whenever veterinary attention was needed. Both daughters married, and Doug found much pleasure in the company of his two grandchildren, Timothy and Melissa.


Doug was only a few years into retirement, and enjoying his new business venture assaying wines, when he was diagnosed to have mesothelioma. In typical style, Doug researched all aspects of this illness and treatment and explained it in detail to all his friends and colleagues. The end came quickly and he died at Croydon on 1 September 1994. Doug was full of courage and determination during this illness, even though he suffered greatly at times. His life was ended much too early, as he had much more to give.

In 1995 his department commissioned Jane Majkut to paint his portrait in oils from photographs. The portrait hangs at the entrance to the building where Doug had spent the longest period of his professional career and where the comings and goings of the staff and students of the active and vibrant department he had established in 1962 can still be observed.

There are many memories Doug's friends and colleagues will have of him. The overwhelming one must be of an enormously talented man, who was creative in many diverse fields and activities. Another must be the infectious enthusiasm and excitement he conveyed about scientific investigation and discovery. His scholarly style did not fit well within today's research environment, with its emphasis on publications, grantsmanship and citation indices. As a major contributor in fields as diverse as electrostatics, circuit theory, stochastic processes, medical science and anaesthetics, he would have felt comfortable in the scientific milieu of the nineteenth century. Indeed, he would have been able to stand tall among the great scientists of that era. He lives on in the memory of many of us who were fortunate to have been associated with him, and he has left a wonderful legacy through the students he inspired to do creative work.

About this memoir

This memoir was originally published in Historical Records of Australian Science, vol.11, no.2, 1996. It was written by Stephen J. Redman, Division of Neuroscience, John Curtin School of Medical Research, Australian National University, Canberra, ACT.


I am enormously grateful to Roslyn Lampard and to her daughters Debbie and Amanda for their help in writing this article. I have also received valuable assistance from some of Doug's friends and colleagues. These include Mr Greg Johnson, Dr Ian Harvey, Mr John Muir, and Professors Bill Levick, Bill Brown and Nhan Levan. I am very grateful to all of them for their assistance.

Degrees, awards and appointments


  • BSc in Physics (1st Class Honours), University of Sydney, 1951
  • MSc in Physics, University of Sydney, 1952
  • PhD in Mechanical Sciences, University of Cambridge, 1954


  • Fellow, Australian Academy of Science, 1977
  • Honorary Fellow, Faculty of Anaesthetists, Royal Australasian College of Surgeons, 1975
  • Fellow, Institution of Electrical Engineers, London
  • Fellow, Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, USA
  • Fellow, Institution of Engineers, Australia
  • Fellow, Institution of Radio and Electronics Engineers, Australia
  • Fellow, Australian Institute of Physics
  • Fellow, Cambridge Philosophical Society

Awards and Medals

  • Heaviside Premium, Institution of Electrical Engineers, London, 1957
  • Albert F. Sperry Award, Instrument Society of America, 1965
  • Centennial Medal, Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (USA), 1984


  • 1951-1960 Member, Research Staff, CSIRO Division of Electrotechnology
  • 1960-1961 Professor of Electrical Engineering, University of New South Wales
  • 1961-1962 Principal Research Officer, CSIRO Division of Electrotechnology
  • 1962-1990 Foundation Professor of Electrical Engineering, Monash University

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