In Memoriam: Thomas Wesley Burrows

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Posted: July 16, 2008

Thomas Burrows of the Energy Sciences & Technology Departmentís National Nuclear Data Center (NNDC), died on July 1, 2008. He was 65. Burrows had joined the NNDC on September 9, 1974, as an assistant physicist. He was named physicist on October 1, 1979


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Thomas W. Burrows, a long-time scientist at the National Nuclear Data Center, Brookhaven National Laboratory, passed away on July 1, 2008. He died of cancer which was not diagnosed until it was too late.

Tom was born in Janesville, Wisconsin and received his B.S. (1965) and Ph.D. (1972) from the University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI. He was part of the prestigious physics group headed by Dr. H. Heinz Barschall who was also his thesis adviser. He was a Nuclear Information Research Associate at the University of Kentucky for two years (1972-1974) under a national program sponsored by the National Academy of Sciences and the National Science Foundation. He joined the National Nuclear Data Center (NNDC) at Brookhaven National Laboratory (BNL) in September 1974 and worked there since then.

Tom contributed to, and excelled in, practically all projects that the NNDC undertook. In his early years at the NNDC, Tom started as neutron cross section evaluator for ENDF/B-V and took lead in charged-particle reaction bibliography. When the NNDC took on the responsibility for the Evaluated Nuclear Structure Data File (ENSDF), Tom was on its forefront. He published 27 mass-chain evaluations and contributed heavily to the creation of the NNDC databases and their online access. Tom kept abreast with the latest technology and with the onset of Internet he created the first Web pages for the NNDC. He was given charge of the complex analysis codes for structure evaluations, and the evaluators throughout the world, part of international Nuclear Structure and Decay Data (NSDD) network, were grateful to him for his meticulous care in maintenance of those codes. For the NNDC he maintained the extremely complex software used in production of the Nuclear Data Sheets journal. Tom also mentored a new generation of ENSDF evaluators who appreciated his patience and thorough approach.

Tom was a very conscientious, dedicated, and hard working person with a keen sense of detail. He had an almost encyclopedic knowledge in many fields of interest to him. He was always ready to help anyone, anywhere, and was ready to pitch in whenever asked. Above all, Tom was a very decent human being!

Tom is survived by his wife Lucy, son Sean, daughter Laura, and two grand children. He will be dearly missed by his family, his colleagues at the NNDC and all the evaluators of the international Nuclear Structure and Decay Data Network.

Last Modified: July 16, 2008