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February 28, 2005

Physics Professor, Edward Pollack, Dies

Edward Pollack, 73, professor of physics, died on Feb. 11 of cancer. A resident of Storrs, Pollack taught a wide variety of physics courses at the University for 41 years and made extensive contributions to scholarship in the field of experimental atomic and molecular physics.

Born in New York City, Pollack received his bachelor’s degree in 1952 from the City College of New York, a school with a reputation for producing first-rate physics graduates. After completing his master’s degree in 1954, Pollack served in the U.S. Army, undertaking research at Fort Detrick in Maryland. He then taught at New York University and City College of New York, earning a doctorate from New York University in 1963.

Pollack joined the UConn faculty in 1963. He specialized in atomic and molecular physics and had a particular interest in atomic collisions.

Professor Quentin Kessel, a longtime colleague and member of Pollack’s Atomic and Ionic Collisions and Surface Studies research team, remembers him as “a pioneer in the measurement of energy losses in slow collisions of ions with atoms and molecules.” He says Pollack secured funding from NASA for a significant research partnership with the Jet Propulsion Laboratory at the California Institute of Technology and a research team at Connecticut College. He also carried out experiments at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, the National Institute of Standards and Technology, and the Laboratoire des Collisions Atomiques et Moleculaires in Orsay, France.

Winthrop Smith, also a professor of physics and a research colleague of Pollack’s, also recalls his colleague’s “benchmark laboratory work” and describes him as “an excellent teacher, and a very good citizen of the physics department and the University in general.”

Pollack published widely in scholarly journals and gave many conference presentations on his research. A Fellow of the American Physical Society, he was also a member of the American Association of Physics Teachers and the Sigma Xi honors organization.

At UConn, he was chair of the physics faculty Teaching Assignments Committee and advisor to the Sigma Pi Sigma physics honors society.

Smith remembers his colleague as a “dyed-in-the-wool New Yorker,” with a sense of humor and a love of life that showed in both his professional career and his varied cultural interests. A devoted family man, skilled musician, and seasoned traveler, Pollack also served on the board of Connecticut Public Television.

Pollack is survived by his wife, Rita, three grown children, and five grandchildren. Donations in Pollack’s memory may be made to the Edward Pollack Endowment for Physics, UConn Foundation, 2390 Alumni Drive, Storrs, CT 06269-3206.

A memorial ceremony will be held at the University on Friday, May 27. For more information, call 860.486.4915.