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In memoriam: Deborah Jin, physicist and pioneer in polar molecular quantum chemistry

07 October 2016

photo of Deborah Jin | Credit: Dave Neligh for NISTDeborah Jin, 47, a physicist and renowned leader in exotic states of matter called ultracold quantum gases, passed away from cancer 15 September in Colorado.

Jin was a 20-year employee of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and worked at JILA, a joint institute of NIST and the University of Colorado Boulder. Jin’s work focused on the fundamental physics of quantum gases, exploring the properties of these gases at ultracold temperatures and innovating technical systems to study their behavior.

In 2005, Jin became the second-youngest woman ever elected to the National Academy of Sciences. Her other honors included a 2003 MacArthur fellowship, the Benjamin Franklin Medal in Physics in 2008, and the 2013 L’Oreal/Unesco For Women in Science award for North America. In 2014 she was recognized by both the Institute of Physics with the Isaac Newton Medal and the U.S. National Academy of Sciences with the Comstock Prize in Physics for her innovative discoveries and investigations in electricity, magnetism and radiant energy. She was recently mentioned as a potential candidate for a Nobel Prize.

Jin is survived by her husband, John Bohn; a daughter, Jackie Bohn; her mother, Shirley Jin; and siblings, Laural Jin O’Dowd and Craig Jin.

A fellow of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), the institute shared a tribute to Jin 19 September.