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September 3, 1998

John David Crawford

John David Crawford, 44, an associate professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy, died Aug. 23, 1998, at UPMC Montefiore of Burkitt's Lymphoma, a form of lymph cancer.

Crawford was an internationally recognized researcher in theoretical physics, specializing in plasma physics and nonlinear dynamics.

Colleagues described him as an outstanding teacher and popular lecturer who could explain sophisticated and complex scientific ideas to undergraduates as well as graduate students. As a researcher, Crawford's deep physical insight and broad knowledge of mathematics enabled him to make lasting contributions in the field of chaos theory, colleagues said.

In 1997, Crawford co-directed the department's Research Experiences for Undergraduates program, which exposes minority students to scientific studies. He participated in the program every year since its inception in 1992.

Crawford joined the Pitt faculty in January 1990 as an assistant professor and was promoted to associate professor in September 1996. Before coming to Pitt, Crawford was a visiting scientist at the Mathematics Institute, University of Warwick in England in 1989; during that time he lectured at Cambridge University. Also that year, he was a visiting research physicist at the Institute for Fusion Studies at the University of Texas at Austin. Crawford also was a research physicist at the University of California at San Diego for six years.

Crawford authored more then 80 scientific papers. While at the Institute for Nonlinear Science in San Diego, he wrote a landmark review on bifurcation theory. He was a member of the American Physical Society, the Sigma Xi honor society, the American Mathematical Society, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics.

Crawford earned his undergraduate degree at Princeton with honors in 1977 and a doctorate in physics at the University of California at Berkeley in 1983.

Crawford was an avid rock climber and mountaineer and camped extensively in the Sierras and Grand Tetons as well as in Europe.

He is survived by his wife, Karen Schichman Crawford; sons Ryan, 3, and Jacob, 1; brothers Stanley E. Crawford Jr. of Houston, Tex. and Samuel H. Crawford of New York City; and parents Stanley and Saradell Crawford of San Antonio, Tex.

A memorial service is scheduled for Sept. 19 at 6 p.m. in Heinz Memorial Chapel.

Crawford's family suggests that contributions be made to the University of Pittsburgh, Department of Physics and Astronomy, Attn: The John David Crawford Distinguished Lecture Series, c/o Frank Tabakin, Pittsburgh, PA 15260.

Filed under: Feature,Volume 31 Issue 1

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