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Alan Squirrell retires after 32 outstanding years
by Phil Keefe, Marketing and Communications, NATA


The end of 2013 marked the conclusion of a 32 year journey for Alan Squirrell.  Alan, whose contributions to accreditation stretched across several continents and touched on many lives, was honoured at a presentation in the Sydney office conducted by Annette Dever, ILAC Secretary. She said Alan had made numerous contributions to accreditation including an understanding of the importance of reference materials and proficiency testing. “He forged strong ties and great working relationships. His was a really outstanding career both in Australia and internationally.”

 

Alan was born in the UK in 1949. He earned a BSc(Hons) in Applied Chemistry 1971 and received a Certificate of Education (Post-graduate) 1972 Prior to joining NATA he worked as an analytical chemist for a pharmaceutical company in the UK for four years and then spent seven years as a senior school science teacher both in the UK and Australia.

Annette recalled that Alan started with NATA on 4 September, 1981 as manager of Chemical Testing. He held this position for seven years (1982 –1989) with responsibility for the surveillance and accreditation of 550 chemical laboratories in Australia. During this time he was directly involved in the on-site assessment of over 500 laboratories, both in Australia and overseas.

Then in 1990 he became Manager of Proficiency Testing which was then a part of NATA. He worked in this role for eight years (1990 – 1998) and held responsibility for the design and implementation of NATA and APLAC Proficiency Testing Programs for Australian and overseas calibration and testing laboratories (approximately 35 programs per annum).

In 1994, he co-convened the ILAC working Group to prepare ISO:Guide 43 Part 1. In 1999 Alan took on the position of Technical Adviser which mainly involved international activity associated with ILAC (and the Regional co-operations), BIPM and ISO, particularly in relation to technical matters associated with linking accreditation to metrology (eg traceability, measurement uncertainty, proficiency testing, and reference materials).

Much of Alan’s time was spent travelling, representing NATA in APLAC and ILAC. More recently he was actively involved with the development and implementation of the ILAC Mutual Recognition Arrangement and held the position of the ILAC Secretary from 2001-2006. Since 2007, he has worked part-time as the ILAC Executive Liaison Officer and regularly attended meetings held by ILAC’s international partners (e.g. WADA, ISOCASCO, ISO-REMCO and BIPM).

Alan told his audience that it’s important to promote the benefits of what we do: “The work can be quite stressful but at the end of the day NATA has very competent people.  We have a lot to offer our colleagues around the world. It’s very satisfying that other countries including poorer ones and developing nations have been able to develop their own accreditation systems.  We need to promote good science. Keep fighting the good fight and don’t be afraid of the difficult things.  Working with organisations like WADA can be challenging but also very rewarding.  I’ve been very lucky to work with people who believe in what they do.”

Some of Alan’s many professional qualifications include: 

Member of the Royal Australian Chemical Institute (RACI)
Association of Official Agricultural Chemists (AOAC) (USA)
International Laboratory Accreditation Cooperation (ILAC) - Secretary 2001-2006
Co-Operation on International Traceability in Analytical Chemistry (CITAC) – past Chairman 1996 – 1999
Asia Pacific Laboratory Accreditation Cooperation (APLAC) - Past Chairman, Proficiency Testing Committee 1995-2002 

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