Bascom Deaver was my first physics instructor at the University of Virginia, and he became my undergrad advisor a semester or two later. I met him when I toured the University in the spring of 1990, and was hooked by his clear description of his research into superconducting quantum interference devices, a field where he had done some of the key groundbreaking research. I’ll never forget his patience with me as I cheerfully declared my physics major, then later chafed against the curriculum and ultimately decided to finish the degree but pursue a different career path. At the time I graduated he was talking to quite a few of us about how the curriculum should be arranged for those who wanted the intellectual stimulation of physics to inform a non-traditional career path, and later translated those insights into a first-class BA degree program.
I was delighted to get a newsletter from the UVA physics department yesterday stating that the department will be naming its first undergrad scholarship fund after Dr. Deaver. That’s a worthy tribute to a dedicated educator, who cared less about creating PhDs than helping to shape minds and share the excitement of the physical sciences.