The memorial organizer requested donations in honor of John W Wilkins


Memorial Fund (Scholarship, Dedication, etc.).

Cornell University Laboratory of Atomic and Solid State Physics Gifts Fund 526702 Box 37334 Boone, IA 50037-0334 Ohio State: Ohio State University Foundation 1480 W Lane Ave Columbus, Ohio 43221 Wilkins Memorial Fund Acct. #483577 This one can be done online as well at

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Memorial Created By
Daniel Cox

John W Wilkins

This page was created by the community of friends, former students, former postdoctoral researchers, and colleagues of John W Wilkins, Eminent Scholar Emeritus and Professor of Physics at the Ohio State University. You can share your stories, photos (I know there will be none of those) and thoughts here. ...  see more

John W. Wilkins, Ohio Eminent Scholar and Professor of Physics Emeritus at The Ohio State University passed away on December 6, 2019 in Columbus, Ohio. Born on March 11, 1936 in Des Moines, Iowa, he obtained a BS in Engineering...  see more
3,644 Visits

Posts & Photos

  • Bill Camp
    I came to Cornell as a grad student in 1966. Like John, my undergrad work was in engineering’; but I found I loved physics and maths above all. At Cornell I had many great teachers: among them, my advisor, Michael Fisher, Ben Widom, Neil Ashcroft, Ken...  more
  • Daniel Cox
    From Anti Pekka Jahoe:

    "I arrived at Cornell in 1976, and by all accounts it was a dramatic learning experience. Later, in 1979 John had a two-year sabbatical in Copenhagen, he brought me along to allow me to complete my thesis with him. I’m forever...  more
  • Daniel Cox
    Daniel Cox added 1 photo(s) to the memorial John W Wilkins:
  • Daniel Cox
    Daniel Cox added 4 photo(s) to the memorial John W Wilkins:
  • Shelley Palmer
    It's been nearly a week since John passed and I am now finally sitting down to write some of my memories. Most of those who have shared on this site or directly with me by email are only names that were on his long list of colleagues, or perhaps you...  more
  • Bill Halperin
    In the heyday before and about the time of the discovery of superfluid 3He at Cornell, John was a frequent visitor to the low temperature laboratory bubbling with ideas and questions, unsatisfied with answers, at least until he could turn a valve on a...  more
  • Ross McKenzie
    Ross McKenzie added 1 photo(s) to the memorial John W Wilkins:
  • Daniel Cox
    From Prof. Terry Miller, Ohio Eminent Scholar Emeritus, Chemistry, OSU -- "John Wilkins joined The Ohio State University in 1988 as the Ohio Eminent Scholar Professor of Physics. His position made him a member of the President’s and Provost’s...  more
  • Daniel Cox
    From Prof. Avik Ghosh, University of Virginia (PhD student OSU) -- "I was blessed with a PhD supervisor that was a larger than life personality – famous for his work (he was Nobel laureate Bob Schrieffer’s student), for his celebrity students and...  more
  • Daniel Cox
    From Prof. Tin-Lun (Jason) Ho, Distinguished Professor of Mathematical and Physical Sciences, The Ohio State University -- "In my second year as a graduate student at Cornell, a young professor showed up at the beginning of a seminar who instantly...  more
  • Daniel Cox
    From Prof. Bob Buhrman and Prof. Jeevak Parpia, Cornell (experimentalist student mentees and colleagues) -- "Throughout his long career John nurtured and encouraged numerous students and young colleagues. His infectious laugh, insatiable curiosity and...  more
  • Daniel Cox
    From Prof. Henrik Smith, Niels Bohr Institute, Copenhagen, Denmark and Prof. Bengt Lundqvist, Chalmers University, Gothenburg, Sweden --"John Wilkins made a lasting impact on theoretical physics in the Nordic countries over many years, starting in 1968...  more
  • Daniel Cox
    From Jan Herbst, General Motors Research Laboratories retired (PhD student Cornell) --" In addition to his inspirational enthusiasm for research, John’s generous and itinerant nature made it possible for me to visit places I would likely never have...  more
  • Daniel Cox
    From Carl Kukkonen, Caltech/NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory retired (PhD student Cornell) – "Broad scientific curiosity is one of the most important things I learned from John. He emphasized that theorists should work closely with experimentalists,...  more
  • Ross McKenzie
  • Zachary Levine
    I met John in February of 1987 when I came to work there as a Visiting Scientist. Hiring me was an act of kindness. Someone else said they would hire me and place me there, but between the oral and written offer, there was a change of management and no...  more
  • Daniel Cox
    From Raghu Machiraju, Professor of Bioinformartics, Computer Science, and Pathology, The Ohio State University

    "Along with Kaden and others, we from Computer Science worked with John developing novel data mining algorithms. As a young Assistant...  more
  • Daniel Cox
    From Kaden Hazzard, Professor of Physics, Rice University:

    "He did so much for me, and he remains a inspiration for so much I do. John will be missed.

    Thanks for letting us know, and for being there for him, Shelley."
  • Daniel Cox
    From Jessie Au, Professor of Pharmacy, The Ohio State University

    "I met John 20 years ago as we served on the OSU President and Provost Advisory Committee and several other ones. We had many interesting conversations as we worked in different...  more
  • Daniel Cox
    From Wilfried Album:

    "He was a truly great human being and mentor, he and his sense of humor will be sorely missed.

    Dr. Wilfried G. Aulbur
    Senior Partner
    Member Supervisory Board
    Roland Berger"
  • Daniel Cox
    From Gayanath Fernando:

    "Echoing Dan, my sincere thanks to you Shelly for keeping in touch with us and helping John during all these years. He was truly a great physicist and was always there for his students and postdocs. John will be sorely...  more
  • Daniel Cox
    From Doug Scalapino:

    "Dear Shelley,
    Thank you for all you did for John, and for your e-mails keeping us in the loop. I met John in 1962 when he arrived at the University of Pennsylvania as a PhD student of Bob Schrieffer's. Although I was a...  more
  • Daniel Cox
    From M Brian Maple:

    "Dear Shelley:

    Thank you for this and your previous email informing us about John Wilkins. And thank you for helping John so much, which I am sure he greatly appreciated. I met John in the late sixties when I was a graduate...  more
  • Risto Nieminen
    John was a great scientist and a great human being, who made a lasting mark on me and many other people. When I arrived in Copenhagen in 1975 for a two-year post-doc, John had just come on a sabbatical to to help building a condensed-matter activity at...  more
  • Selman Hershfield
    John was on my PhD committee at Cornell and later I was a post-doc with
    him at Ohio State University. Besides my thesis advisor John is the
    person who had the most impact on my scientific career.

    When John was in the room at a group meeting or a...  more
  • Linda Grabner Travis
    I was John’s secretary when he first came to Ohio State, and having read through everyone’s stories, I realize that I also managed to learn much from him, without ever once realizing I was learning. Not about physics – clearly, he knew a lost cause...  more
  • Daniel Cox
    There are so many John stories to share.

    John was great about taking his students and postdocs with him on trips both large and small. I first worked with him when he took several of us - Mark Stiles, Harold Baranger, Gayanath Fernando, and me - to...  more
  • David Tanner
    I'll add more later, but have just upoaded a couple of pictures taken in 2005 at the symposium in honor of Art Epstein,

    (Art is another who passed on this year.)
  • Barbara Jones
    I was one of John's last PhD students at Cornell (the other was Steve White, my year). John was wonderful as an advisor, and I should note, NEVER poked me in ribs, stomach or anywhere else. I always admired how he could have any number of graduate...  more
  • Avik Ghosh
    Avik Ghosh added 1 photo(s) to the memorial John W Wilkins:
  • Steven White
    Steven White added 1 photo(s) to the memorial John W Wilkins:
  • Steven White
    Steven White added 1 photo(s) to the memorial John W Wilkins:
    • Daniel Cox reacted on this.
    • Steven White
      Steven White My wife Betsy and I were fortunate to have John attend our wedding in 1987. John didn't seem to mind this great photo!
      • December 8, 2019
  • Avik Ghosh
    I have the dubious distinction of possessing one of few rare photos of John Wilkins in existence. I had heard many Wilkins stories – that you shouldn’t use color on your slides, and that nobody ever dared to take his pictures. Being naturally...  more
  • Daniel Cox
    From N David Mermin:

    "John Wilkins and I both arrived at Cornell as new Assistant Professors in the Fall of 1964. We shared an office in Rockefeller Hall. (Clark Hall opened the following year.) I had never met anyone like him, and learned an...  more