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Russel Kauffman ’84

The eldest of six children, Russel grew up in a log cabin in Cave Junction, Oregon. His father ran a wood construction business, and the family used mules and a draft horse to drag harvested wood out of the Siskiyou Mountains. Russel excelled at driving the mules and the Belgian draft horse, which was dangerous work. One end of the harness would be attached to the horse and the other end to a tree. Russel would steer the horse using a long pair of reins, having to jump around trees and shrubs to avoid getting dragged or slammed into a tree. After Russel was accepted into the PhD physics program at Stanford, his father quipped that he’d lost the best mule driver he ever had.

At Reed, he wrote his thesis, Self-Force and Electromagnetic Mass, with Prof. David Griffiths [physics 1978–] advising, and went on to earn his doctorate from Stanford University. Russel developed and taught a computer simulation course, as well as a full physics curriculum, and was an assistant professor of physics at Muhlenberg College and a visiting assistant professor of physics at Franklin and Marshall College. His research in computational chemistry simulated the electronic structure of metals to tune catalytic properties, and the results were published in a leading journal. An aerospace physicist, he worked as a senior engineer for Vencore in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania, and he spoke at five national conferences and one international conference.

With his wife, Jade Fantasy, he shared a passion for Argentine tango and loved dancing and performing.

Along with his parents, he is survived by his wife, Jade; his son, Felix; stepsons, Jonathan and Jason MacDuffie; brothers, Zachary, Marcus, and Matthew Kauffman; and sisters, Matina Kauffmann and Angelique Kauffman Rodriquez.

Appeared in Reed magazine: December 2016

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