Donald Duff was born in Edinburgh on January 31, 1927. In many ways his professional career mirrored his itinerant schooldays in Scotland and England caused by his father’s peripatetic work as a personnel officer with the LNER. Donald attended six different schools before becoming a pupil at the Royal High School. From there, encouraged by his parents and Dr Mary Noble FRSE, a neighbour and a well-known plant pathologist, he entered the University of Edinburgh in 1944 with the intention of pursuing agriculture, but a year later he was called up and spent three years in the Fleet Air Arm before returning to the University to study geology. He graduated in 1951 with a First Class Honours degree and immediately joined the British Geological Survey where he was given the task of mapping the coalfields of Notts and Derby, thus forming the basis of his subsequent research career.
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