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EAS, obituary
03/27/2009 07:00:00

Thomas McGill, 66

Thomas McGill, professor of applied physics, emeritus, at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) passed away on March 19. He was 66.

Born on March 20, 1942, in Port Arthur, Texas, McGill was the oldest of five children.

His research had been aimed at the development of new devices based on the fundamentals of solid-state physics, including Schottky barriers and amorphous materials, as well as the applications of heterojunctions and superlattices to a wide class of devices. McGill directed the theses of over 50 PhD students in electrical engineering, physics, and applied physics. He served for nearly 30 years as a consultant to the Defense Science Research Council of the Defense Advanced Research Project Agency, was a member of the congressionally mandated Semiconductor Technology Council, and served as chief of the Naval Operations Executive Panel.

McGill joined Caltech in 1971 as a member of the Division of Engineering and Applied Science. He was the first faculty member hired in the new discipline of applied physics. He received his BS from Lamar State College of Technology in 1964, and his MS and PhD from Caltech in 1965 and 1969, respectively, under Carver Mead. He was Fletcher Jones Professor of applied physics from 1985 to 1999, and became emeritus in 2008.

McGill authored or coauthored hundreds of publications and was personally known as an engaging lecturer and teacher, a caring mentor, a passionate scientific leader and contributor in many areas, as well as an important contributor and leader in many advisory and working groups for the government.

Married in 1966, he is survived by his wife, Toby Cone McGill, and two daughters, Angela McGill Avogaro and Sarah McGill.

In lieu of flowers, the family suggests a contribution to the Pasadena Humane Society.

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Written by Jon Weiner