In Memoriam: Thomas J. McIlrath, 1938-2020

December 22, 2020

Thomas “Tom” J. McIlrath,  OSA Fellow and former Professor at the University of Maryland at College Park, MD, has passed away.  McIlrath was a Professor in the Institute for Physical Science and Technology at the University of Maryland at College Park and associate dean for research and graduate studies in the graduate school. McIlrath was also a staff member at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) in Gaithersburg, Maryland, prior to his retirement.

McIlrath received his PhD in Physics from Princeton University in 1966. Following graduation, he spent a year as a NATO postdoctoral fellow at Oxford University. McIlrath would go onto work as a research associate at Harvard College Observatory for several years before joining the faculty of the University of Maryland, College Park. McIlrath was known as a laser and atomic physics experimenter.

McIlrath served as Treasurer for the American Physical Society (APS) from November 1996 to August of 2006. As the Society's chief financial officer, the APS Treasurer is responsible for the preparation and administration of the APS budget, for the Society's investments, for business interactions with the American Institute of Physics, for the Society's legal affairs, and for personnel policies and administration. The Treasurer is also expected to participate in all aspects of the governance, policy formation and administration of the Society. McIlrath was an active member of the APS Division of Laser Science, which he chaired in 1988.  He was made an OSA Fellow in 1986. McIlrath was an active OSA volunteer having served on numerous award selection committees, conference committees, and the OSA Board of Directors.

McIlrath was known as a good friend, mentor, and a great scientist by many within the scientific community. His kindness and dedication to the profession were noted by his many colleagues and collaborators.

OSA and scientific community mourns the loss of Thomas “Tom” J. McIlrath.


Awards & Distinctions