Nina Byers
January 19, 1930 - June 5, 2014 Nina Byers, a prominent theoretical physicist, passed away at her home in Santa Monica on June 5, 2014, succumbing to a hemorrhagic stroke. She was born to Irving and Eva Byers on January 19, 1930 in Los Angeles. She was married to Arthur Milhaupt, Jr. until his death in 1987. She is survived by her niece Morissa, nephew Mark, extended family, colleagues, students and life-long friends scattered throughout the globe. Nina was a pioneering physicist contributing to both our understanding of particle physics and superconductivity. She received her BA with highest honors from UC, Berkeley in 1950 and her M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Chicago in 1953 and 1956, respectively and an M.A. from the University of Oxford in 1967. Nina began her career as a Research Fellow at the University of Birmingham, England in 1956. She moved to Stanford University in 1958 before beginning her long relationship with UCLA as an Assistant Professor in 1961, the first and the only female in the Physics department for over 20 years. In 1967, Nina accepted a position as the first woman Lecturer in Physics Department at Oxford and split her time between Los Angeles and Oxford until 1973. Nina served as President of the American Physical Society Forum on History of Physics in 1982. She retired in 1993, but was an active Professor Emeritus until her passing. She was vigorous in her efforts to increase the representation of women in physics and worked to document their accomplishments, which culminated in her book Out of the Shadows : Contributions of Twentieth-Century Women to Physics. During her long career, she was a visiting scholar at Harvard and Oxford and held several fellowships and published numerous papers. In addition to her passion for Physics, Nina never stopped learning about the world around her. She was politically aware, advocating against nuclear weapon proliferation for over six decades, and a staunch anti-war activist. She also supported many social justice and environmental causes. Her passions also included the Arts, with a love of classical music, film and an inclination to contemporary art and theatre. Nina, a truly independent and inspirational woman, whose genuine warmth immense heart, will be greatly missed by her global family. Her wishes are to have her ashes laid to rest at Woodlawn Cemetery in Santa Monica, CA. There will be a memorial service for her there in early autumn.
Published by Los Angeles Times on Jun. 29, 2014.
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I was a Ph. D student with Nina. I remember her being easily accessible, especially for those of us that were at the University late at night. Nina was a great teacher and thought deeply about the problems in physics. She stressed the importance of character in becoming a researcher as opposed to following fashion. Intellectual honesty was a value she passed on. She always suggested the importance of following an idea, wherever it might lead and thus didn't really see physics as a cell one had to stay inside of.
Not too long ago, I wrote to her about what I was up to and reflected about how knowledge gets passed down through the generations. It occurs within an extended family. She was schooled at the University of Chicago. Through her help I worked at Argonne National Lab, run by the University of Chicago. My daughter got her law degree from there. Now my grandson goes to Lab School run by the University.
There are other ripples as well, since I, along with another of her students, Paul Stevens, went off to Oxford to join Nina for almost a year. From there I got the bug to work in Europe, and was fortunate to get a post doc at CERN. Nina taught by example that research was an international quest. My daughter has continued that quest, albeit not in research but in law. She carries out her law practice with regular trips to an office in London and elsewhere outside of the US.
I will miss Nina. I will forever be indebted to her for what she gave to me and the positive impact she had on my family (past and present), though they did not know her well and we're probably not aware the huge debt we all owe to her.
Jerry Thomas
July 7, 2014
Dear Nina, you played a pivotal role in my life for which I will always be grateful. After I became your Ph.D. student in 1967 you invited me to spend the year with you in Oxford. My daughter Kristin was 6 months old so Pat and I were a bit reluctant to go. However, we did go and we experienced one of the best years of our lives. We have stayed in touch over the many years since. Last year I went to Caltech Alumni Day and enjoyed visiting you in the house in Santa Monica that you have lived in during all the years I have known you.
Paul Stevens
July 4, 2014
Paul Stevens
July 4, 2014
Paul Stevens
July 4, 2014
Paul Stevens
July 4, 2014
Dear Nina,
I guess we won't be able to finish your biography after all. I was looking forward to hanging out with you.
Roger Dittmann
July 1, 2014
Dear Nina. You were definitely one of a kind. You had such passion for what you believed in. Your contribution to physics and to women will always be remembered. I was honored to have had the opportunity to work with you on your "Contributions of Women in Science" site and your "Out of the Shadows" book. Goodbye my friend. Mary Jo
Mary Jo Robertson
June 30, 2014
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