Dr. Gabriel Kojoian passed away on May 17, 1998, victim of a fatal heart attack. He was 70. For the past two decades, Kojoian was professor of physics and astronomy at the University of Wisconsin at Eau Claire, where he was a popular teacher, noted for his enthusiasm and often unconventional approach to his subject matter.
Kojoian was born in Providence, Rhode Island on 11 December 1927 and received his BSc from Brown University in 1952 and a DPhil in physics from University of California, Berkeley in 1966. His pre-Wisconsin years were spent at Tracerlab (l966-67), NASA Ames (1967-68), University of Massachusetts (1969-71), MIT (1972-73), and Pahlavi University in Shiraz Iran (1975-76). He held visiting positions in the USSR in 1976 and 1978.
Gabe's primary area of research was radio astronomy. He initiated and supervised a project while at Eau Claire which designed and built a device to measure accurate positions for hundreds of galaxies, which were then observed at Green Bank, Arecibo, and other facilities by his team. This effort culminated in the publication of several major survey papers in the Astrophysical Journal and other professional publications. His survey of Markarian galaxies is one of the definitive efforts in the field. He was embarking on a new international collaboration to study objects in the Second Byurakan Survey (a deeper version of the Markarian catalog) just before his death.
His research efforts always promoted programs in which his students could play integral roles. These research experiences opened new horizons for his students and encouraged them to challenge themselves further through pursuit of graduate studies at some of the nation's top level universities, and many of them are now productive researchers and teachers across the country, primarily in physics. Much of the work was done on a financial shoestring, with Gabe using personal funds to help support his students' research.
Those of us who worked with Gabe have an endless supply of anecdotes whose common threads recall his ebullient good nature, genuine friendship, and essential humanity, which we were lucky enough to share. He is greatly missed.
Photo (available in PDF version) courtesy of the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire.