Obituary: Peter R. Phillips, professor emeritus of physics, 92

Peter R. Phillips, a professor emeritus of physics in Arts & Sciences at Washington University in St. Louis, died Friday, Dec. 1, 2023, in St. Louis. He was 92 years old.

Peter Phillips

Phillips was born in what is now South Sudan, where his father was a missionary. He was raised in England and earned his bachelor’s degree in physics at Cambridge University. He came to the United States to attend Princeton University as a Charlotte Elizabeth Procter Fellow, then earned his PhD in physics at Stanford University in 1961. His thesis advisor was Wolfgang (Pief) Panofsky, the first director of the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center (now the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory).

After working for two years at Argonne National Laboratory in Chicago, Phillips joined the faculty of Washington University in 1963. He stayed for the rest of his career, retiring as a professor emeritus in 1999. For many of those years, Phillips taught a large introductory physics course. His research in high-energy physics was supported by the National Science Foundation; he later studied the physics of unexplained phenomena and parapsychology.

Phillips is survived by his wife, Hongwen Xu, of Hangzhou, China; daughter, Valerie Phillips Drake; and his former wife, Elizabeth Van Vorst , both of Rochester, N.Y.; and grandson, Calvin Philip Drake.