TRIBUTES have been paid to a much-loved and respected university lecturer after he died suddenly, aged just 42.

Dr Patrick Nolen, a popular member of the Department of Economics at Essex University for more than ten years, died on Sunday after suffering a heart attack.

Dr Nolen, who dedicated much of his research to gender equality, was called “an outstanding and sought-after educator” by grieving colleagues.

The head of the department, Professor Christian Ghiglino, said: “Patrick joined Essex in 2006, upon completing his PhD at Cornell University in the United States and immediately became an invaluable colleague in every aspect of the department’s life.

“He was an outstanding and sought-after educator, an extremely driven and high-achieving researcher and an inspirational and exemplary leader.

“Patrick was held in high esteem in the profession and he applied his immense skill and intense energy to a variety of topics.”

Dr Nolen played a key role in the development of the university’s laboratory research team EssexLab, made up of sociologists, economists and political scientists.

He furthered insight in such topics as gender research - including single sex education and risk-taking differences - and health insurance, as well as poverty eradication and exporting.

Prof Ghiglino added: “His talents led to a string of prominent publications, a stream of significant grant income and editorship of the Journal of Economic Behaviour and Organisation.

“In the wider world he acted as a consultant to departments of the UK government and to several international organisations.

“Patrick was a sparkling presence and much like a family member.

“He was generous, funny, lively and very much loved. We will miss him greatly.”

Among a wave of tributes from former students and colleagues, a friend said: “Everyone was equal in his eyes. I’m sure Essex will miss him.”