Erich W Vogt (1929-2014)

We received the sad news yesterday that Dr. Erich Vogt passed away on the morning of February 19. Erich was a distinguished researcher, a well-respected professor, and a pioneer in the field. But most importantly he was a friend - a friend to many of us working/studying in the department, to the students he taught, to the many lives he touched. 

At UBC, the BC Flag (Main Mall and Agronomy Road) will be lowered on Thursday, February 20, in memory of Erich. A celebration of his life is planned and will be announced soon via TRIUMF.

In lieu of flowers, donations will be accepted for Erich's First Year Student Research Experience Fund (FYSRE). Visit the UBC memorial page to contribute, or to share your memory of Erich. In addition, PHAS Professor Emeritus Jesse Brewer put together a website dedicated to the memories of Dr. Erich Vogt, with a good collection of photos of Erich on the Gallery page, and links to other relevant information.

[updated on March 31] The Globe and Mail recently published an article on Erich Vogt's contribution to Science in Canada - Scientist Erich Vogt put Canada on world physics map.


Erich W. Vogt, best known among his many accomplishments for being a co-founder of the TRIUMF laboratory and its longest-serving Director, passed away peacefully February 19, 2014 in Vancouver General Hospital. He was 84 years old.

Erich Wolfgang Vogt was born in Steinbach, Manitoba on November 12, 1929, the second (with a twin brother) of six boys. He received his academic degrees at the University of Manitoba (B.Sc. Honours 1951, M.Sc. 1952), where he was awarded the Gold Medal in Science upon his graduation, and at Princeton University (Ph.D. 1955) as the student of Eugene Wigner, with whom he attended the last scientific lecture given by Albert Einstein. He would go on receive honourary doctorates from Manitoba (D.Sc. hc 1982), Queen's University (D.Sc. hc 1984), the University of Regina (LL.D. hc 1986), Carleton University (D.Sc. hc 1988), Simon Fraser University (D.SC. hc 1995) and the University of British Columbia (D,Sc. hc, 1998). From 1956-65, Vogt worked at the Chalk River Nuclear Laboratory as a theoretical physicist, publishing very many papers in the field of nuclear reactions and was heavily involved in the creation of the first Canadian CANDU reactors. In 1965 Vogt became professor at the University of British Columbia, where he became one of the co-founders (with John Warren) and prime movers behind TRIUMF, Canada's National Laboratory for Particle and Nuclear Physics. Between September 1974 and April 1980, Vogt was Chairman of the TRIUMF Board of Management, and was laboratory Director from 1981 until his retirement in March 1994.

Students celebrated Erich's retirement - Erich taught 1st year physics for 45 years.

Vogt's service to the Canadian academic community reached far beyond TRIUMF. In 1970-71 he served as President of the Canadian Association of Physicists (CAP). From 1975 until 1981, he was Vice President, Faculty and Student Affairs at the University of British Columbia. In 1978, he was the founding Chairman of the Science Council of British Columbia, a position which he held until 1980. He was also a prime mover since 1980 behind the Science World science centre in Vancouver, serving several years on the Board and was named a lifelong patron. For all his service Vogt was bestowed with many honours. He received the Centennial Medal of Canada in 1967, and was elected to fellowship in the Royal Society of Canada in 1970. In 1976, Vogt was appointed an Officer of the Order of Canada and in 1977 was awarded the Queen Elizabeth Silver Jubilee Medal, followed by the Queen Elizabeth Golden Jubilee Medal in 2002 and the Diamond Jubilee Medal in 2012. The CAP awarded him their Medal for Achievement in Physics in 1988, and in 2011 created in his honour the "CAP-TRIUMF Vogt Medal for Outstanding Experimental or Theoretical Contributions to Subatomic Physics". Tel Aviv University (Israel) unveiled the "Erich Vogt Laboratory for Data Analysis" in 1991. He was an executive member of the Vancouver Institute for 10 years and was elected an honourary lifetime member in 1992. In 1998, he received the Chairman's Award for Career Achievement from the BC Science Council. Vogt was appointed to the Order of British Columbia in 2006 and in the same year he received the UBC Faculty of Science Achievement Award for Teaching. He continued to teach first year physics until his 80th birthday in 2009, where in 45 years he taught more than 5000 students.

Internationally Vogt served on a plethora of scientific committees: as a member of the Physics Advisory Committee, Los Alamos National Meson Physics Facility in 1976-79; as a member of the U.S. Government's Nuclear Science Advisory Committee in 1982-85; as Chairman of the Nuclear Science Advisory Committee of the Stanford Linear Accelerator in 1984-87; as Chairman of the Advisory Committee for the Indiana University Cyclotron Facility in 1983-87; as Chairman of the Accelerator Science Advisory Committee for the Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory in 1984-87; as a member of the University of Chicago Review Committee for the Physics Division for Argonne National Laboratory in 1986-89; as Chairman of the Princeton University Physics Department Advisory Council in 1985-92; as Chairman of the Visiting Committee of the Laboratory for Nuclear Sciences of MIT in 1987-94; as a member of the Commission of Nuclear Physics for the International Union of Pure and Applied Physics (IUPAP) in 1990-93, as well as its Vice Chairman in 1993-96 and Chairman in 1996-99; as Chairman of the Scientific Advisory Committee for the COSY accelerator at the Kernforschungsanlage, Juelich, Germany in 1989-95, including as a member of the Advisory Committee for Nuclear Physics; as a member of the Advisory Committee for the Department of Physics and the Department of Space Physics & Astronomy at Rice University; and as a member of the Scientific Advisory Committee of the Paul Scherrer Institute of the ETH in Zuerich, Switzerland. For 1994-2012 he was a member of the Joint IUPAP and IUPAC Working Group for the evaluation of claims for the discovery of new elements. He was also coeditor (with John Negele of MIT) of the prestigious international series "Advances in Nuclear Physics" published by Plenum Publishing Co. in New York from the first volume in 1968 through the 27th volume in 2004.

Erich W. Vogt lived in Vancouver, BC. He had two daughters and three sons, all UBC graduates, and sixteen grandchildren. He is predeceased by four brothers and his wife of 54 years, Barbara (in 2006). His eternal optimism in the face of daunting challenges uplifted all in presence to the very end, and he will be sorely missed.


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