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Recent In Memoriam (Obituaries)

James Wong

October 9, 1927 to October 4, 2020
Dr. James Wong

WONG, Dr. James From Wayland, MA, passed away peacefully on October 4, 2020 at the age of 92 surrounded by his family. He is survived by his beloved wife of 65 years, Lorinda (née Yung), and their seven children: Lesley Wong and husband Chris Grande (deceased) of Lexington, KY, Corinne Wong and husband Steve Wilson of San Rafael, CA, Marcy Zenobi-Wong and husband Renato Zenobi from Zürich Switzerland, Terence Wong and wife Amy Sullivan of Wayland, MA, Jamie Wong from Montreal, Canada, Jessie Harlin and husband Brian Harlin of New York, NY, and Lori Wong and husband Rick Miller of Los Angeles, CA. He was a loving grandfather to his 17 grandchildren who were a constant source of great pride and joy for him. James was born in New York City Chinatown on October 9, 1927, the youngest of eight children. Following his older brothers' lead, he entered MIT in 1944 and discovered his calling for engineering, earning his PhD in Material Science in 1955. In 1962, he founded Supercon, Inc., to which he remained dedicated, going to work every day until March 2020.

A renowned expert in the field of superconducting materials, Dr. Wong's passion for inventing led to numerous patents that advanced the manufacturing of specialty metal alloys. In 2011, he received the prestigious IEEE Award for Continuing and Significant Contributions in the Field of Applied Superconductivity for his pioneering work in producing commercial grade superconducting cables and conductors. The award has since been renamed "IEEE Dr. James Wong Award for Continuing and Significant Contributions to Applied Superconductor Materials Technology." James was dedicated to his wife Lorinda and their family. James had a green thumb and spent his free time tending his vegetable garden and flowering plants. The yearly tomato, corn, and chestnut harvests impressed everyone who had the pleasure of sharing this bounty. He was also a great lover of the ocean and spent many holidays fishing and clamming with his family. There was no food he loved better than a platter of fried clams.

Private services were held at the Lakeview Cemetery in Wayland. In lieu of flowers, gifts may be made to MIT for the Class of 1948 Student Financial Aid Fund in memory of James Wong '48. Checks may be made payable to MIT and mailed to: Memorial Gifts Office; 600 Memorial Drive, W98-500; Cambridge, MA 02139.

Obituary originally published in Boston Globe 6-11 October 2020.


Rafael Navarro

May 1, 1950 to September 25, 2020
Prof. Navarro; Photo ICMAB

Rafael Navarro was born in the middle of the last century in Teruel, a small city south of Zaragoza, northern Spain. His passion for science brought him to the University of Zaragoza, first as a student and later as a teacher and researcher. He was a Professor with strong convictions about how the University should evolve. He was always faithful to these ideas, taking a step forward and trying to put them into practice from numerous management positions at all levels: Director of the Department of Materials Science and Technology and Fluids, Director of the former Engineering School, member of the Governing Council and the University Senate, and, more recently, as an Academician at the Zaragoza Royal Academy of Sciences.

His research career began in the Low Temperature Physics group, together with Professor Domingo González and with the group of Professor Jos De Jongh, at the University of Leiden, where he received his Ph.D. in the field of magnetism. Years later he was instrumental towards the establishment of the Institute of Materials Science of Aragon (CSIC-University of Zaragoza), where he started a research group in the field of superconductivity, with initial activity linked to the development of advanced processing and characterization methods for low and high Tc superconducting materials, as well as cryogenic instrumentation applications. The development of mechanical and laser texturing methods of high Tc superconductors, as well as the interpretation of their physical properties, are among his outstanding contributions to the  Superconductivity and Materials Science disciplines. He was a foremost, recognized expert in the knowledge of the mechanisms that explain the behaviour of materials and showed great versatility to approach the development of applications, starting from a sound theoretical point of view. Even in this last year, while struggling with his illness, he was intensely involved in contributing to the fundamental and practical understanding of the processes that drive the interaction of power lasers with the surface of materials.

Rafael, Rafa for the people who have come across him, was, above all, a close person of superb human quality. Outside of his professional duties, he had a great interest in culture, cinema and mountain hiking.  He was very special, someone that always received you warmly, would listen to you and with whom it was possible to have transcendental conversations about life. In essence, those of us who were fortunate enough to interact with Rafa, are profoundly influenced by his wisdom, tolerance and great human qualities. These have helped improve our professional and personal character for the better.

Great friend and colleague, you will remain in our memories, we will always miss you.


John "Jack" F. Mc Donald

January 14, 1942 to February 21, 2020

May 1, 2020 (PO75).  Professor John "Jack" F. Mc Donald was the loving husband of Karen (Knapp) McDonald of Clifton Park, New York. Jack was the son of Francis Patrick and Lulu Ann (Hegedus) McDonald. He was born on January 14, 1942, in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania. He also lived in Narberth, Pennsylvania, Norfolk, Virginia, Trumbull, Connecticut, Troy and Clifton Park, New York. His nearest relative is a brother Robert Charles and his wife Gay Gibson McDonald of Stow, Massachusetts, and a nephew, Gavin Gibson McDonald of Santa Barbara, California. Karen's brother is David and his wife Heleen (Wells) Knapp of Ballston Lake, NY, her sister, Merrilyn (Knapp) Cournoyer of Fruitland, FL. and a niece, Kate Knapp. The McDonald's were friends with two former foster children, Abby and Michael.

Jack received his BSSE from Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and his MS and Ph.D in Engineering from Yale University. He was an Assistant Professor at Yale University. At Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute his office was located in the Electrical, Computer, and System Engineering Department in the Jonson Engineering Center. He was a Founding member of the Rensselaer Center for Integrated Electronics. He was a Contributor to more than 300 articles to professional publications. His Memberships were Computing Machinery, IEEE (he was a life senior member), Associate Editor Transactions on VSLI Design. He was an educator by heart. He loved teaching his students and preparing them for their future careers. He taught courses in Communication Theory, Coding and Switching Theory, Computer Architecture, Integrated Circuit Design, High Frequency Packaging and Digital Signal Processing over his career of 45 years at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, NY. He had 12 patents and numerous grants. John was a consultant to the United States Government and private companies. He was in Who's Who in America and Who's Who in the World. John provided papers at conferences in England, France, Portugal, Italy, Holland, and Germany. His current focus was in Chip Design and Integrated Circuit Design.



Alvin Tollestrup

March 22, 1924 to February 9, 2020
Alvin Tollestrup 2018

February 25, 2020 (PO71).  Award-winning engineer and physicist Alvin Tollestrup, who played an instrumental role in developing the Tevatron as the world’s leading high-energy physics accelerator at Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory and founding member of the Collider Detector at Fermilab collaboration, died on Feb. 9 of cancer. He was 95.

Tollestrup led the pioneering work of designing and testing 1,000 superconducting magnets used in the Tevatron, which operated from 1983 until 2011 and for 25 years was the world’s most powerful particle collider. This was the first large-scale application of superconductivity worldwide.

“Alvin’s impact on the laboratory and on high-energy physics was just exceptional, and the development of technology with regard to the superconducting magnets had a tremendous impact on accelerators,” said Fermilab senior scientist emeritus Herman White. “All who knew him, socially and professionally, found him to be engaging, thoughtful and someone with a long, important history of working in the research community and here at Fermilab.”

The Tevatron led to the discovery of two fundamental particles — the top quark and the tau neutrino. The top quark, discovered in 1995, was the last undiscovered particle of the six-member quark family that explains the composition of protons, neutrons and other particles. Scientists worldwide had sought the top quark since the discovery of the bottom quark at Fermilab in 1977. The discovery of the tau neutrino with the Tevatron accelerator followed in 2000.

Tollestrup was born March 22, 1924, in Los Angeles, California. He received his bachelor’s degree in engineering from the University of Utah in 1944. After service in the U.S. Navy, he entered graduate school at the California Institute of Technology, where he earned his Ph.D. in physics in 1950. His doctoral adviser was William A. Fowler, who shared the 1983 Nobel Prize in physics. Tollestrup then took a position at Caltech to build the electron synchrotron, a type of particle accelerator. At the time it was the highest-energy synchrotron in the world, starting at 500 million electronvolts, or MeV, finally reaching 1,300 MeV.

He joined the Caltech faculty as an assistant professor of physics in 1953. While on sabbatical at CERN, the European particle physics laboratory, from 1957-58, he helped plan and execute the first experiments on the lab’s 600-MeV cyclotron particle accelerator. The work led to the first observations of the electron decay mode of the pion (a subatomic particle consisting of up and down quarks and antiquarks). He became an associate professor at Caltech in 1958 and a full professor in 1962.

Tollestrup arrived at Fermilab in July 1975 on another sabbatical, intending to stay only six months. He ended up stretching the sabbatical to two years, during which time he worked on superconducting accelerator technology.

He joined the Fermilab staff following his sabbatical and in 1978 became head of the newly created Collider Detector Facility. He later became a founding member of the CDF collaboration, serving as its co-spokesperson from its inception in 1983 until 1992. He was instrumental in organizing the CDF collaboration, which initially consisted of 13 institutions and 87 physicists from the United States, Italy and Japan. His recruiting strategy included producing an “Uncle Alvin Wants You!” poster (see page 5).

During the 1990s Tollestrup also became a founding member of the Neutrino Factory and Muon Collider collaboration, which today is known as the Muon Accelerator Program. MAP is devoted to developing and testing the demanding technologies and innovative concepts needed to discover and explore exciting new regions of fundamental physics.

In 2009, along with Florida State University’s David Larbalestier, Tollestrup successfully launched and led the Very High Field Superconducting Magnet Collaboration. Its purpose was to study the applications of high-temperature superconductors to accelerator superconducting magnets.

After only two years and $4 million in funding, the collaboration significantly increased the current density of a bismuth-based superconducting material that would be needed for the potential next-generation of accelerators and new cutting-edge technologies for applications in industry and medicine.

The 1989 National Medal of Technology recipients, from left: Richard A. Lundy, J. Ritchie Orr, Helen T. Edwards, Alvin V. Tollestrup. Photo: Janine TollestrupTollestrup received many honors during his career, including the National Medal of Technology — the nation’s highest honor for technological achievement — and election to the National Academy of Sciences. Tollestrup received the Robert R. Wilson Prize of the American Physical Society for Achievement in the Physics of Particle Accelerators in recognition of his contributions to the development of the Tevatron’s superconducting magnets. Other honors include Caltech’s Distinguished Alumni Award and the 2011 IEEE Award for Continuing and Significant Contributions in the Field of Applied Superconductivity from the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Council on Superconductivity for significant and sustained contributions in the field of large-scale applications of superconductivity.

Well-known for nurturing students and young scientists, he also is the namesake of the Tollestrup Award for Postdoctoral Research, which the Universities Research Association Inc. has presented annually since 2003. The award recognizes outstanding work conducted by a postdoctoral researcher at Fermilab or in collaboration with Fermilab scientists.

“While the research community is well aware of Alvin’s scientific contributions, I think one of the greatest legacies he leaves is his devotion to nurturing young people in the field,” said Brookhaven National Laboratory scientist Mark Palmer, who worked with Tollestrup in the Muon Accelerator Program. “Numerous young researchers were beneficiaries of his patience and incisive approach to problem-solving as he mentored them.”

Photographed - The 1989 National Medal of Technology recipients, from left: Richard A. Lundy, J. Ritchie Orr, Helen T. Edwards, Alvin V. Tollestrup. (Photo credit: Janine Tollestrup)


Archie MacRobert Campbell

May 3, 1940 to November 21, 2019
Photo circa 2018
December 02, 2019 (PO70).  It is with great sadness that we inform the scientific and cryogenic communities that Professor Archie Campbell died on Thursday, 21 November 2019. Archie passed away peacefully at home after a short illness. He is survived by his wife, Anne, his children Frances, Emily, and Diarmid, and his eight grandchildren.
Archie was appointed a University Lecturer in the Department of Engineering in 1974 and was a Professor of Electromagnetism at the University of Cambridge, also serving the University as Pro-Proctor from 1985 to 1986, and then Proctor from 1986 to 1987. He had been a Fellow of Christ’s College since 1966 and celebrated 50 years in this role three years ago. 
Archie had a long and distinguished career in his field, spanning over 40 years.  He pioneered the so-called "Campbell technique" for investigating the penetration of flux in bulk superconductors and, together with late Prof. Jan Evetts, authored in 1972 the subject-defining monograph “Flux pinning in Type II superconductors” (Adv. Phys. 21, 199, 1972).  Upon his retirement from the Department of Engineering in September 2007, the ‘Campbell Conference’ was held to recognize his significant contributions to studies of flux pinning in Type II superconductors, ac losses, and understanding of the critical state in superconducting materials. Archie remained an active member of the Cambridge Bulk Superconductivity Research Group and the Department of Engineering following his retirement and continued to play a key role in the development and understanding of applied superconductivity right up to his death. He was a much-loved and highly regarded colleague and collaborator, and his loss will be felt by the entire international superconductivity community.

David Cardwell
Archie Campbell was one of the few exceptionally knowledgeable and globally respected colleagues in the field of applied superconductivity with deep insight in all aspects of flux pinning in superconductors, low Tc as well as high Tc. My memory goes back to our first encounter during the 11th International Conference on Low Temperature Physics, St. Andrews, 1968, and continues with our International Discussion Meeting on Flux Pinning in Superconductors in 1974 (Sonnenberg, Germany), followed thereafter by a larger number of joint Europe-Japan-US workshops. Archie always contributed creative, often unconventional and novel ideas to these discussion workshops. Now, after his passing, he leaves an enormous gap, which is difficult to bridge.

Herbert C. Freyhardt