William & Mary

With great sadness we mourn the loss of Professor Mike Finn who passed away on January 31, 2009

Professor of Physics John Michael Finn, passed away suddenly in the early hours of Saturday Jan. 31.

Prof. Finn had been on the faculty of the College since 1985 arriving after receiving his PhD in 1975 from Catholic University, and after postdoctoral positions at U. of Massachusetts, Amherst, and Louisiana State U. While a physics graduate student, he was drafted into the U.S Army. He served for two years as an infantryman with the Forth Infantry Division, stationed in the Central Highlands of Vietnam, where he was awarded two US Army Commendation Medals for meritorious service.

Over the years Mike taught a wide variety of courses in the physics department, ranging from introductory undergraduate physics to graduate level courses. He supervised the dissertation research of eight PhD students, and recently published a graduate-level textbook, "Classical Mechanics", (Infinity Science Press). His research was in experimental nuclear physics, conducted mainly in recent years at Jefferson Lab in Newport News, and previously at the MIT/Bates Lab, Los Alamos National Lab, CEA-Saclay (France) and the Naval Research Lab. He was a leader and co-spokesperson for two major experiments at Jefferson Lab, the HAPPEx experiment, a pioneering measurement which searched for strange quark effects in the proton, and Qweak, which will test the Standard Model of particle physics. He was an author of over 90 scholarly papers on nuclear physics, as well as numerous presentations at national and international physics conferences.

His service to College governance included membership in the Educational Policy committee and the Committee on Graduate Studies, and several physics department committees.

In addition to his academic publications in physics, he published two books of poetry, "Flashback: A Journey in Time" and "Butterfly Girl", both published by 1stBook Library, as well as "Ghost Tracks", a memoir of the Vietnam War, published by Royal Fireworks Press. He was also politically active, most recently serving as the chair of the York/Poquoson Democratic Party committee.

Prof. Finn leaves behind a wife, Kit, five children and two grandchildren.