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In Memoriam

Natalia Krasnopolskaia
July 16, 1955 - January 30, 2020


Natalia started at the physics department at the University of Toronto in September 2002. Over the years she taught many first year physics courses, PHY291H1S “Quantum Mechanics I” for Engineering Sciences, PHY385 “Introduction to Optics”, and she has been a lead instructor in the Advanced Laboratories, including being the Advanced Laboratory Coordinator from 2007 to 2010.

Natalia was also the Physics Olympiad Preparation Program (POPTOR) coordinator from 2003 through 2013. This was our major high school outreach program for many years. As coordinator, she planned, advertised and ran the program, drawing 10-20 outstanding high school students per year into our department to work on exam problems and laboratory experiments under her supervision.

In 2011 and 2012, Natalia involved a total of 45 first-year undergraduates in the planning and delivery of the POPTOR program. The undergraduate students prepared experiments, created problem sets and conducted classes and practical sessions with the high school students. Results of this two-year project were reported in a talk at the 2013 Canadian Association of Physics Congress in Montréal, “Involving the 1st Year Students in Teaching and Research Activities in Physics.”

Natalia was an Advanced Undergraduate Laboratory Instructor multiple times during the period 2013-2020, and was the course Coordinator in 2016-2017. This is a demanding position that involves one-on-one student mentorship, as well as maintaining and updating over 35 different experiments in condensed matter, optics and high energy physics. Her colleagues speak very highly of her “hard work, outstanding organization, enthusiasm for physics and caring attitude.”

Between 2011 and 2017, Natalia supervised 19 students in the Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF) program. These students helped to develop experiments for the Advanced Labs and Second Year Labs. Several of these projects lead to posters at the Canadian Undergraduate Physics Conference (CUPC).

The department is planning to rename the SURF program in honour of Natalia. Natalia will be sorely missed for many years to come around here.

Written by Jason Harlow.