Professor John Brignell

Professor Emeritus (ESD)

John Brignell was educated at Stationers’ Company’s School and began his career as an apprentice at STC. He studied at Northampton Engineering College (which became The City University, London) and took the degrees of BSc(Eng) and PhD of London University. He joined the staff at Northampton and was successively Research Assistant, Research Fellow and Lecturer. He worked in a number of areas including dielectric liquids and computer aided measurement, co-authoring a book "Laboratory on-line computing" in 1975. He was for ten years Reader in Electronics at The City University and held the Chair in Industrial Instrumentation at Southampton for twenty years from 1980. He has researched and written extensively in the area of sensors and their applications, and in 1994 co-authored a book with Neil White on "Intelligent sensor systems". He had an extensive private consultancy practice for many years and has advised some of the larger international companies, as well as many small ones in the UK, on all aspects of industrial instrumentation. He pioneered the use of a number of technologies in sensing, such as thick film, and latterly turned his attention to the considerable possibilities of micro-engineering. He was elected Fellow of IOP, InstMC, IEE and RSA. In 1994 he was awarded the Callendar Silver Medal by InstMC. He served on the ISAT Committee of IoP from its inception and was the founding chairman of the first joint professional group of the IEE (J1), having served on both its predecessors (E1 and C11).

John was closely involved, since their beginnings, with the national series of conferences on Sensors and their Applications and the Eurosensors conferences. He took time out to organise Eurosensors XII, which took place in Southampton in 1998. He has now taken early retirement (to the West Country) in order to spend more time on various writing projects. His book Sorry, wrong number!, about the abuse of measurement in politics and the media, was published in September 2000. This was followed in 2004 by a sequel called The Epidemiologists: have they got scares for you!.

He also dedicates a considerable amount of his time to editing a web site called Number Watch at which deals with wrong numbers in the media and politics and includes a Number of the Month. It currently receives well over 1,000 visits per day and has a lively forum for general discussion.



John still gives occasional lectures at venues such as Lloyds of London, mainly on the abuse of statistics. He was the IEE Wheatstone Lecturer for 2004. He also occasionally advises industrial and other organizations on matters relating to measurement and statistics.

Department of Electronics & Computer Science,
University of Southampton,
Highfield, Southampton SO17 1BJ

Home telephone: 01747 861114