Alumni In Memoriam: Dr. John Hoffman

Dr. John Hoffman, Ph.D Physics, 1954,  1930-2021 

Dr. Hoffman received his bachelor’s degree in physics from St. Mary’s University of Minnesota, as it is now known, and master’s and doctoral degrees from the University of Minnesota. Dr. Hoffman was professor emeritus of physics and founding faculty member of The University of Texas at Dallas. Beginning in the 1960s, Hoffman designed and built scientific instruments for satellites, planetary missions and other space probes for experiments that traveled millions of miles throughout the solar system. His mass spectrometers — instruments that measure the characteristics of atoms and molecules found in atmospheres and soils — helped explore Halley’s comet; accompanied Apollo 15, 16 and 17 astronauts to the moon and the Pioneer mission to Venus; and aided in the discovery of water on Mars. In 1966 he joined the atmospheric and space sciences research group at the Graduate Research Center of the Southwest (GRCSW), which became UT Dallas in 1969. In addition to teaching, Hoffman was a member of the William B. Hanson Center for Space Sciences. He retired in 2017. In the early days of space sciences at UT Dallas, John Hoffman built a large number of space experiments for operation at Earth, the moon, Mars, Venus and comets. He provided a foundation for the international reputation in space experimentation that UT Dallas enjoys today. Hoffman served as head of the Department of Physics from 1978 to 2001 and was associate dean for undergraduate education from 2000 to 2009. He also was president of the Texas Section of the American Association of Physics Teachers from 1993 to 1995 and was UT Dallas’ representative to the Texas Space Grant Consortium from 1992 to 2006.

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