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In Memorium: Dr. Christine Floss – There are many definitions of success

April 23, 2018

The following was written by Dr. Maitrayee Bose, and our heartfelt condolences go out to the family, friends, and colleagues of Christine.  

141104_jaa_christine_floss_0219_760-300x200.jpgOn 18th April, Christine Floss, Research Professor in the Physics Department at Washington University in St. Louis and the McDonnel Center for Space Sciences died unexpectedly.

She played an influential role in my life. She taught me to think, read and write like a scientist. She taught me how to investigate an idea, step by step. She was intelligent, observant, organized and an excellent mentor. My first impressions of her, when I joined Washington University as a graduate student, was that of a successful career woman, who devoted her energy and time to her research and who was also enjoying her family life. She served as a role model for me.

I was her first graduate student, and so got to see her interactions with Frank Stadermann, who was both her husband and scientific partner. It was hilarious, wonderful and heart-warming to listen to them bicker over which colors should be used in the plots in my abstract or to fight over a grammatically incorrect sentence in the manuscript. At the end of our meetings with such comical discussions, Christine always pointed out that the work is mine, and should have my approval, no matter what they said.

After I graduated we kept in touch, and met at meetings, when she told me several times how she was proud to see my scientific progress. During our recent conversations I realized how she had become the pillar of strength for the 4th floor (McDonnel Center of Space Sciences is on the 4th floor of the Physics Building), after the deaths of first Frank and then Ernst Zinner. She continued with her diverse research and aided her co-workers and students cope emotionally. In addition, she started to volunteer for Friends of the Children of Haiti for which she made several month-long trips to Haiti. She felt a unique sense of purpose and satisfaction in these endeavors, and was even considering getting a nursing diploma to better help with medical issues.

Although I am distraught by the news of her death, I am thankful that my last memories of her are that she was upbeat and happy. You can see reflections of her persona in her interview taken in 2010.

A memorial service will be held on Wednesday, April 25, at 2 pm at the Ethical Society in St. Louis, where Christine served in multiple roles on the Board of Trustees. In lieu of flowers, donations in her honor may be made to Ethical Society of St. Louis or Friends of the Children of Haiti.

One Comment leave one →
  1. lovenstars permalink
    April 25, 2018 8:10 am

    So sorry for this loss. Such a wonderful story. Thank you for sharing!

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