BRIGGS, Lindsay Heathcote
Professor of chemistry, the University of Auckland.
Lindsay Heathcote Briggs was born in Hastings on 3 January 1905 and, after graduation in science at Auckland Univ. College, he undertook postgraduate studies at Oxford where he came under the influence of Sir Robert Robinson, at that time carrying on, in the Dyson Perrins Laboratory, the great tradition established by W. H. Perkin, Jun. There he took part in the investigation of the extraordinarily difficult problem of establishing the structure of strychnine. On his return to New Zealand Briggs established at Auckland perhaps the first recognisable New Zealand national research school of chemistry, devoted largely to the study of the constituents of native plants and trees. These studies have centred mainly on colouring matters, the terpenoid constituents of trees and shrubs, and alkaloids, particularly the steroidal alkaloids of the solanum species. An integral feature of this work has been the fine training given to an impressive number of doctoral candidates, many of whom have since made highly successful careers in the Commonwealth.
Amongst his many distinctions, Briggs has been a Hector medallist of the Royal Society of New Zealand (1943), president of that body and of the New Zealand Institute of Chemistry, Liversidge lecturer of the Royal Society of New South Wales, and, more recently, a visiting prestige fellow under the Commonwealth scheme at Aberdeen. He is also a member of the Honorary Editorial Advisory Board of Tetrahedron, the international journal of organic chemistry.