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Paul Markley Mockett ’59

A picture of Paul Mockett

Paul Markley Mockett ’59, March 30, 2015, in Seattle, Washington.

Paul grew up on a Nebraska wheat farm that had been in his family for generations and learned how to run the operation with his brother and sister. His mother suggested he attend Reed, where he majored in physics and wrote a thesis on the theory of magnetoresistance with Prof. Jean Delord [1950–88]. Paul went on to earn a PhD from MIT and was a professor of physics at the University of Washington (1972–2005).

His experiments in particle physics took him to Brookhaven National Lab in New York, Fermilab in Illinois, the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center in California, and the Superconducting Super Collider in Texas. His final project involved building muon detectors in the ATLAS project at the CERN proton collider near Geneva, Switzerland. His device measured controlled collisions to detect fundamental subatomic particles called muons, whose presence might indicate new particles or mini black holes, which slough off muons in their decay.

In 2008, Paul honored Prof. Delord by endowing a chair in Reed’s physics department in his name. “I was surprised that no one had done this before,” he said. “One of the strengths of small colleges is the level of interaction with faculty, in a department that interacts with other departments. It gave me insights and powerful tools for viewing the world outside of the sciences.”

“Nothing gave him greater pleasure than being with his family,” we read in his obituary. “He was a wonderful man with a rich life, and will be missed.” Survivors include Sara, to whom he was married for 50 years; his son and 3 daughters; 12 grandchildren; and a sister.

Appeared in Reed magazine: September 2015

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