Whitman County Gazette - Serving Whitman County since 1877

Jean Johnson

Jean Johnson

Jean Johnson

Anna Jean Slaughter Johnson, an early pioneer of woman in physics, died on May 2nd, 2019 at a hospice in Spokane, Wash. She was 75.

Known professionally as Jean Slaughter, she earned her PhD in physics from Yale University in 1973, one of only 58 women to do so that year in the entire United States. Dr. Slaughter stayed at Yale for most of her career as a research scientist, where she worked on experiments at the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory in Batavia, Ill., and the Brookhaven National Laboratory in Long Island, N.Y. including the E791 charm particle experiment, and CDF which shared discovery of the top quark in 1995.

As one of the early women in her field, Dr. Slaughter made it a focus of her career to mentor her fellow female scientists. Dr. McBride, a physicist at Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory, and one of Dr. Slaughter's graduate students, said "Jean had a lot to do with shaping my career and taught me a lot about integrity and the perseverance needed to be a female physicist." After she retired from active research, Dr. Slaughter volunteered with the American Association of University Women (AAUW) to send eighth grade girls to summer camps where they would be exposed to mentors and peers who were also interested in engineering, math, science, and medicine. She was devoted to making it easier for other women to succeed in these fields.

Dr. Slaughter loved nature and spending time out-of-doors. She was an accomplished backcountry traveler, one of the rare few to have crossed the Brooks Range in Alaska on foot; a trip she did not once, but twice. She also traveled to the remote reaches of Baffin Island in Northern Canada, the rainforests of Brazil, and the deserts of the Southwestern United States. In her retirement to the Palouse Hills of Washington State, she enjoyed walking amongst the wild flowers with her family and friends.

Born in Piqua, Ohio on April 23rd, 1944, Dr. Slaughter was the first child of what would become twelve brothers and sisters. Growing up as the daughter of an electrical engineer who owned a business, impressed upon her the need for independence and hard-work, which she carried with her throughout her life. She is survived by her husband of forty-nine years, Marvin Johnson of Garfield, Wash., and her son, David Johnson who lives in Cambridge, Mass., as well as ten of her brothers and sisters, and many nieces, nephews, and their children.

A memorial service will be held at 10:30 a.m., on July 14th, 2019, at the Rosehurst Garden in Spokane Wash. In lieu of flowers, please make donations to the Washington State Nature Conservancy or the AAUW Tech Trek (Palouse-Garfield chapter).


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