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Remembering John Larese (1954-2021)

November 23, 2021

photo credit: Sandra Larese-Nixon 2018

John Z. Larese, Professor of Chemistry at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville (UT), Shull Wollan Center Research Affiliate, and an outstanding member of the neutron scattering community for several decades, passed away Sunday, November 01. He was 67 years old.

John’s postdoctoral work with Daniel Frankl at Penn State started a lifelong interest in the study of the interaction of small molecules with surfaces. He was instrumental in using, and developing, neutron scattering techniques to study the dynamics of hydrogen, alkanes and cycloalkanes on metal oxide and graphite surfaces after joining the neutron scattering group at Brookhaven National Laboratory in 1987.

After 15 years at Brookhaven’s HFBR reactor, John moved to the University of Tennessee-Knoxville in 2001 and became the driving force behind the neutron vibrational spectroscopy VISION beam line at the Spallation Neutron Source at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL). He considered VISION to be one of his proudest achievements and greatest legacy to the neutron scattering community. John established a successful research program that bridged UTK and ORNL and was a faculty affiliate at the Joint Institute of Applied Materials and the Shull-Wollan Joint Institute of Neutron Scattering at ORNL.

In 2014, he was honored as a fellow of the American Association of the Advancement of Science and became a fellow of the American Chemical Society in 2020. His research took him to many other neutron scattering facilities ­worldwide, where he established scientific collaborations and developed long-lasting friendships with numerous members of the neutron scattering community. Throughout his career he delivered first-class science, taking great pride in his experimental skills and the quality of his work. John was innovative, fastidious in his approach to science and always stimulating to talk to. He was an outstanding mentor to the numerous students who learned neutron scattering under his guidance and will be greatly missed.