Thomas Jordan, Physics

Author: Carol Bradley

Thomas Jordan, physics, died Thursday, March 30.

Tom Jordan, project coordinator for QuarkNet from its inception, died on Monday, March 30. He was 52.

Jordan worked at Fermilab from 1998 to 2006, before moving to the University of Florida and then to the University of Notre Dame.

QuarkNet brings high school physics teachers into the particle physics research community at 50 universities and labs nationwide. Jordan’s vision for the program and his tireless drive supporting teachers and mentors instilled and maintained excitement for physics research and physics education.

David Jones of Florida International University remembers Jordan’s enjoyment of physics and ability to convey it.

“Tom loved all aspects of QuarkNet, from troubleshooting code and electronics to the bigger questions,” Jones said. “When he was working with students, he had a special ability to connect with them and get them to be curious about the cosmos or high-energy physics.”

Illinois teacher Darwin Smith spent a summer working at Fermilab for Jordan on QuarkNet.

“As a non-physics major there were gaps in my knowledge about things we were doing,” Smith said. “Tom was incredibly patient, and I have always appreciated that.”

Boston teacher Rick Dower was reminded of Jordan’s educational focus.

“Tom knew that developing the process of inquiry was more important than any specific answer he could give. His legacy is the sharing of that vision with so many teachers,” Dower said.

Jordan is survived by his wife and five daughters.