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Donald Baganoff, professor in School of Engineering, dead at 72

Donald Baganoff

Donald Baganoff

BY KENNETH M. DIXON

Donald Baganoff, a faculty member of the Aeronautics and Astronautics Department for more than 32 years, died Dec. 17 at his home in Palo Alto. A dedicated teacher and researcher, Baganoff, 72, had suffered a severe stroke on Nov. 19.

A memorial service will be held Tuesday, Feb. 1, at 4 p.m. in Memorial Church. Family and friends are invited to attend.

"Don was an outstanding teacher and one of the foremost researchers in the world in the field of high-speed gas dynamics," said Brian Cantwell, the Edward C. Wells Professor in the School of Engineering. "He pioneered new computational algorithms that enable the simulation of rarified gas flows, such as those that exist around the space shuttle during re-entry. Baganoff's approach is based on the direct calculation of trillions of molecular collisions."

Such an undertaking is no small feat, especially when applied to a spacecraft poised to re-enter the Earth's atmosphere. Recent developments in computer technology have made Baganoff's work even more relevant.

"At the end of his career, [Baganoff] made particularly significant contributions to the numerical modeling of fluid mechanics problems using a statistical approach in a very innovative and novel way," said Lambertus Hesselink, professor of electrical engineering.

Baganoff was born Jan. 22, 1932, in Crystal City, Mo. After receiving a bachelor's degree from Purdue University in 1957, a master's degree from Washington University in 1960 and a doctorate from the California Institute of Technology in 1964, he remained a research fellow at Caltech until joining the Stanford faculty in 1965.

In addition to authoring many technical papers, Baganoff was an award-winning teacher. He became an emeritus professor in 1998.

Baganoff enjoyed golf, tennis, swimming, ice-skating and jogging, but loved football. He would frequently attend Stanford and San Francisco 49ers games with his daughters. He also loved ballroom dancing and taught himself to play classical guitar.

Baganoff is survived by his wife, Kay, of Palo Alto; brother, Fred, of St. Louis, Mo.; daughters Kathryn Baganoff Uhlik of Danville, Calif., Michelle Baganoff-Keith of Newark, Calif., and Deborah Baganoff of Mountain View; and six grandchildren.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to Stanford University, Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics, Durand Building, 496 Lomita Mall, Stanford, CA 94305-4035, with accompanying letter to department chair Brian Cantwell.

Kenneth M. Dixon is a science-writing intern for the Stanford News Service.