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Fellowship in physics memorializes professor

by Jennifer Huber - February 26, 2007

A graduate fellowship in memory of Dwight Damon, professor emeritus of physics, has been established by his wife, June.

The Dwight Hills Damon Graduate Fellowship in Experimental Physics will enable future graduate students to carry on Damon’s legacy of innovative research in physics.

Damon died in September.

Damon’s daughters and their husbands, Candace and David Jacobson and Inger and Greg Armstrong, have contributed additional funds to the fellowship endowment. A number of friends of the family have added their support as well.

Inger and Greg Armstrong both graduated from the UConn School of Medicine.

“There has been an outstanding outpouring of support,” says June Damon.

Winthrop Smith, a professor of physics who was a colleague and friend of Damon’s, says, “Mrs. Damon and Professor Damon’s two daughters and their spouses have made an extremely generous contribution to the physics department through the UConn Foundation. The family hopes this will be an enduring memorial to the memory of Dwight Damon and to his broad interests in scientific research methodology.”

After earning a doctorate in condensed matter physics from Purdue University in 1961, Damon worked as a research scientist at Westinghouse Electric Co.

He joined the physics department at UConn in 1970, when he took charge of the Charles Reynolds Low Temperature Research Laboratory.

During his 27-year tenure, he significantly advanced physics research and education at UConn.

He helped develop and served as assistant director of the Polymer Program of the Institute of Materials Science from 1980 to 1983, and was instrumental in establishing the Electrical Insulation Research Center, which he led as associate director from 1983 to 1985.

Damon also developed the polymer physics curriculum for UConn’s Polymer Program.

“His colleagues and friends will remember Professor Damon as a warm and enthusiastic person, a dedicated teacher, and an excellent experimental researcher,” says Smith.

The fellowship will be reserved for full-time graduate students who are seeking doctorates in experimental physics and intend to contribute to scientific research in the U.S.

“I wanted to help experimental physicists along their way,” says June Damon, noting that the path to complete a graduate degree in experimental physics is long and arduous.

“Experimental physicists are usually at their graduate work longer than theoretical physicists would be,” she says.

“You just feel that time and you want to finish.”

Smith adds, “[The fellowship’s] intent is to recognize talent in the experimental aspects of physics research, and to help such students to complete their Ph.D. research successfully and in a timely fashion.”

Rather than erect a physical marker to memorialize her husband, June Damon chose to create a fellowship in his name in his chosen field.

“I decided an appropriate marker for him would be a fellowship in experimental physics,” she says.

To support the Damon fellowship fund, contact Frank Gifford, development director for the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, at 860.486.6798.

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