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In memoriam: fusion pioneer John Dawson.

Professor John M. Dawson of the UCLA Physics Department passed away in his sleep early Saturday morning, November 17, 2001 at the age of 71. John was a leading figure in the plasma physics community for more than four decades, and beloved by hundreds of colleagues, students and friends. He had successfully overcome life-threatening illnesses several times in his life. Recently he had been in improving health and had enjoyed being able to return to attending the American Physical Society Division of Plasma Physics meeting m Long Beach. He was noted for his innovative mind, which was active to the end. He took great pleasure in discussing physics with colleagues, in the continued success of his former students and post-docs, and in the amazing progress being made in particle simulations of plasmas.

John was a true humanitarian who believed that science was still the most noble of professions. He was particularly proud of his invention of an isotope separation process that was used to save many lives from cancer. He was the recipient of the Maxwell prize and the Aneesur Rahman prize. These two prizes are the highest honors in the plasma physics and computational physics divisions of the American Physical Society. He was also a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and was an Individual Affiliate of Fusion Power Associates.

John's contributions to science span all of plasma physics. He worked on magnetic fusion, inertial confinement fusion, space plasmas, plasma astrophysics, free electron lasers, and basic plasma physics. He is considered the father of plasma-based accelerators as well as the father of computer simulation of plasmas. While others have made pioneering contributions to particle simulations, it was John who developed this into a third discipline of research by showing how powerful a tool it could be. He was a mentor to several generations of plasma physicists and touched countless others with his generously shared physical insight, his bounty of new ideas and his encouragement of others. He spent a good portion of his early career at Princeton University Plasma Physics Laboratory.

A small memorial service is planned for Saturday, December 1, for information contact Andrea Johnson at 310-825-3440. A larger celebration of John's life and career will be held on the UCLA campus early next year. Condolences can be sent to the family at 359 Arno Way, Pacific Palisades, CA 90272. As a result of interest from friends and colleagues, a scholarship/student award fund is being created in John's name. Contributions can be sent to "The John Dawson Memorial Fund/U.C. Regents" do Andrea Johnson, UCLA Physics Dept., LA, CA 90095.

The above obit was largely written by Warren Mori []
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Publication:Fusion Power Report
Date:Nov 1, 2001
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