Fri 11/3/2023 10:01 AM


Dear all,

it is with great sorrow that I am letting you know that Prof. Alex Flournoy passed away this morning after a long battle with gliosarcoma. Alex received the diagnosis in the summer of 2019 after an emergency brain surgery while he was on vacation in Germany. Until his untimely end today, Alex truly was a survivor of a disease that has a 5% survival rate after 5 years (and a median survival of only 9 months). His health started to decline this summer and took a turn for the worse in the past several weeks. The last time I saw Alex was just about 3 weeks ago when Kristine and I visited him at one of his (many) brothers in Superior. Despite being physically diminished and struggling with language, Alex’s sense of humor and personality were still very much with him!

Alex joined the Physics department in 2006 as a young teaching assistant professor with a rather strong theoretical background and a PhD in string theory! Alex was a dedicated, loving and loved instructor at every level of our curriculum from the introductory sequence to graduate courses, from classical mechanics to particle physics and general relativity. Anyone who has watched one of Alex’s lectures either in person or on YouTube is stricken by his contagious enthusiasm for the material. Many of Alex’s nearly 300 lectures on YouTube have thousands, if not tens of thousands, of views. A comment for his most popular video (on Lie groups and Lie algebras) reads: “Morgan Freeman could not have pulled off this level of explanation” (take that Morgan Freeman!). 

Alex leaves a great void. He will be greatly missed. I invite all of you to take some time to remember Alex and reflect on Alex’s impact on our department. In the near future, we will figure out the best way to honor his memory now and for the years to come.
Dr Fred Sarazin
Knot Table