Particle physics expert Ann Nelson dies aged 61

She worked for a summer at the European Organization for Nuclear Research in Geneva, known as CERN, the world’s largest nuclear accelerator, before graduating from Stanford in 1980. She went on to Harvard, getting his doctorate. in 1984. Before obtaining her doctorate, she published her first paper, without co-authors – rare even for established theorists.

After teaching at other universities, she and Dr. Kaplan, who married in 1987, met at the University of Washington in 1994. That’s where she was working when she died.

Her accident was unusual, Dr Kaplan said, because they walked regularly and had taken much more dangerous passages than the one she fell on. She was moderator of the Washington Hikers and Climbers Facebook page, which has nearly 120,000 members. On Sunday, the page’s profile picture still showed Dr. Nelson hiking in 2018 in the Cascades in Washington state.

Besides Dr. Kaplan, with whom she lived in Seattle, Dr. Nelson is survived by their daughter, Sierra Kaplan-Nelson; their son, Gabriel Kaplan-Nelson; his parents; and her sisters, Laura Segala and Caroline Kris.

While studying at the University of Washington, Dr. Nelson became known for advocating for diversity and social justice in science, and in particular for mentoring students from non-traditional backgrounds. As part of her efforts to reach more diverse students, she had lectured in the Palestinian territories.

In particle physics, it is often difficult to create models to explain how particles interact, in part because the results can be strange or even confusing. Dr. Nelson knew this and accepted it.

“Anne told me,” Chanda Prescod-Weinsteina University of New Hampshire-based cosmologist who did postdoctoral work under Dr. Nelson at the University of Washington, wrote in Quanta magazine after her death, “only to be happy as a physics modeler particles, I had to be OK with something like mounting a moose head on a wall and putting a purple scarf on it without caring why she was wearing a purple scarf.

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