Professor Emeritus Richard F. Ellis died on Sunday, May 6. He was 73.
Professor Ellis received his B.A. in physics at Cornell University in 1966 and his Ph.D. in plasma physics at Princeton in 1971. He served on the faculty at Dartmouth and also held appointments at Los Alamos National Lab, the Max Planck Institute for Plasma Physics and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory before joining UMD Physics in 1979. He was also an early and instrumental member of IREAP.
Ellis was a plasma experimentalist with two primary research efforts. On campus, he directed the Maryland Centrifugal Experiment (MCX), an innovative effort funded by the Department of Energy’s Office of Science to contain hot plasma for the goal of realizing energy from controlled fusion. The experiment evaluated this novel concept for its potential to achieve fusion energy and to explore basic plasma physics questions such as whether sheared flows can suppress fluid turbulence. He also directed efforts at General Atomics Technologies (GA) in San Diego on an Electron Cyclotron Emission (ECE) diagnostic to study the distribution of electron temperature on the DIII-D “tokamak” fusion device.
A devoted educator, Ellis served as Assistant and Associate Dean of the College for several years and as Associate Chair of the Physics Department for Graduate Education (1994-99) and Undergraduate Education (2010-12). He served several years in the campus senate and as president of the UMD chapter of Phi Beta Kappa.
He received the Department’s Excellence in Teaching Award in 1981-82 and its Continued Excellence in Teaching Award in 1982-83. He was also nominated for the Parents’ Association 2001 Outstanding Faculty of the Year Award. He was a resident of College Park and enjoyed attending Maryland sporting events.
Professor Ellis, who retired in 2016, is survived by his wife Adele, his daughter and two grandchildren.