Published: Oct. 26, 2023

Paul PhillipsonProfessor Emeritus Paul Phillipson passed away on October 20, 2023, at his home in Boulder at the age of 90. He was a long-standing and treasured member of the faculty. 

Paul was born in Newark, New Jersey in 1933 and after briefly attending Columbia High School, he began his studies at the University of Chicago at the age of 16. He earned his PhD in physics from the University of Chicago in 1962, under the mentorship of Nobel laureate Robert S. Mulliken. He completed postdoctoral work at the University of Michigan from 1961 to 1963 and held a prestigious Alfred P. Sloan Fellowship from 1963 to 1967.  

Paul joined the Department of Physics as an Assistant Professor in 1963 and his career spanned 35 years until his retirement in 1998. He made significant contributions to the teaching and research missions of the department. After retiring in 1998, he continued conducting research and frequently worked in his office in Duane Physics as Professor Emeritus.  

He was a leader in his research field, studying theoretical nonlinear dynamics and biophysics. Paul was the department’s first biophysicist. Professor Paul Beale reflected on Phillipson’s research, stating “Paul Phillipson became a leader in the study of the chaotic dynamics of nonlinear differential equations especially as applied to chemical, biological, and neurological processes.”  

Beale added “Paul published dozens of articles on the subject, many with his long-term collaborator Peter Schuster at the University of Vienna.” These collaborations led Paul and his wife Pat to spend many semesters in Europe, where Paul served as a Visiting Professor at the University of Vienna and the Austrian Academy of Sciences. 

Professor John Cumalat remembers Paul “as a colleague of good cheer who laughed easily.” Cumalat noted “Paul retired at 65, but he remained research active for the rest of his life.”  

Paul is survived by his wife Pat, son Mark Phillipson (spouse Scott Tebbetts); daughter Andrea Vassiliadis; grandson Nicholas Vassiliadis (and spouse Ozgu Vassiliadis); grandson Jack Vassiliadis; two nephews, Robert Ross and Richard Ross; and numerous members of his wife’s extended family. 

View Professor Phillipson's Obituary