The University of Texas at Arlington College of Science Fall 2011  

Tribute - Leonard M. Diana (1923-2011)

Physicist was a pioneer of department at UTA

     Leonard M. Diana, a 30-year member of the UT Arlington physics faculty, died Sunday, January 23, after a long hospitalization.
     Dr. Diana taught and did active research in physics at UT Arlington from 1965 until his retirement as professor emeritus in January 1995.
     He served as associate dean of the College of Science from Sept. 1975-81. He also was an adjunct professor in the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at UT Health Science Center in Dallas.
     "Leonard was one of the pioneering physics faculty at UTA," said Alex Weiss, department chair. "He was a dedicated teacher and researcher who did much to build our department into what it is today."
Leonard Diana
Leonard Diana
      A native of Pennsylvania, Dr. Diana began his studies in chemical engineering at Georgia Tech. He left to enlist in the Army during World War II, serving as a member of the 103rd Infantry Division in the European theater. After the war, he returned to Georgia Tech, changing his major to physics and graduating with a B.S. in Physics in 1948. He received a doctorate in Physics from the University of Pittsburgh in 1953.
     Dr. Diana worked in chemical research at Standard Oil of Indiana and the American Tobacco Co. for nine years, and then joined the faculty of the University of Richmond for three years before coming to UT Arlington in 1965.
     He was a founder of positron annihilation research at UT Arlington and was promoted to professor in 1971. Weiss credits Dr. Diana and fellow physics professor Suresh Sharma with helping maintain and strengthen the department's positron research efforts after the death of John McNutt, another pioneering member of the department. In the 1970s, led by Dr. Diana, Sharma and Paul Coleman, UT Arlington's positron group received worldwide recognition and in 1982, UT Arlington was chosen to host the Sixth International Conference on Positron Annihilation, which Dr. Diana co-organized. He also co-edited its publications.
     Truman Black, a longtime physics professor who retired in May, shared an office with Dr. Diana for a time after they arrived within months of each other in 1965.
     "We got along very well, although I probably drove him crazy," Black joked. "He and I were both working to build the department, and he contributed a lot to making it a better one."
     Dr. Diana played a pioneering role in the formation of the Texas Section of the American Physical Society (APS). He served as its chairman from 1983-85 and, along with professors Robert Clark of Texas A&M and David Gavenda of UT Austin, was awarded the organization's first Distinguished Service Awards in October 2009.
     He was a Fellow of the American Physical Society and the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and worked on many committees and councils for the Texas Sections of the APS and the American Association of Physics Teachers.
     He co-authored over 40 research publications and numerous papers. He conducted a variety of research projects and in the mid-1970s, studied the effects of molecular and liquid structure on the annihilation of positrons. He was also principal investigator of a late-1970s project funded by the National Science Foundation titled "Undergraduate Research Participation in Physical Sciences and Engineering."
     He specialized in positron-scattering, cross-section measurements in the noble gases. He strongly encouraged undergraduate participation in his lab and provided many students with their first lab research experience.
     Survivors include his wife of 30 years, Dorothy Lynn Brooks; children, Leonard and wife, Laura, of Garden City, N.Y., Susan Rumsey and husband, Michael, of Richardson and Lawrence and wife, Danae, of Riviera; stepdaughter, Ginna Walters and husband, Gary, of Arlington; six grandchildren; and one great-grandchild.
     A memorial service was held on February 12 at St. Alban's Church in Arlington. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that memorial donations be made to Cook Children's Medical Center in Fort Worth.