Dr. Thomas H. Wood, professor emeritus in Penn's School of Arts & Sciences' department of physics & astronomy, passed away July 5, 2012, at the age of 89. Born in Atlanta, Georgia, Dr. Wood spent most of his youth in Tallahassee, Florida. He attended the University of Florida where he majored in mathematics before being drafted into the US Navy in 1943. After attending the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterrey, California, he was stationed at the Brooklyn Navy Yard where he helped oversee construction of the aircraft carrier FDR and served aboard as a radar operator.
After WWII, Dr. Wood completed his undergraduate degree and began graduate studies in physics and in the new field of biophysics at the University of Chicago. In 1953 he was awarded a PhD in physics.
He then came to the University of Pennsylvania where he became full professor of physics in 1963, continuing work in radiation biology and genetics. He chaired the Physics Graduate Group from 1971-1976. Fond of travel, Dr. Wood took sabbatical leaves in Paris, France; Leicester, England; and Cairo, Egypt.
He became professor emeritus in 1988 and retired from Penn a year later.
As an experimental biophysicist, Dr. Wood worked on mapping the E. coli genome decades before DNA sequencing, mentored younger faculty and trained a generation of premedical students at Penn.
Dr. Wood is survived by his sons, David, Robert and Scott; daughter-in-law, Suzanne; and grandchildren, Aaron, Carolyn and Richard Wood.
A celebration and recollection of Dr. Wood's life will be held on Saturday, October 20, at 2 p.m. followed by a reception at 4 p.m., at 375 Baird Road, Merion Station, PA 19066.
Donations in his name may be made to Salk Institute for Biological Studies,
Office of Annual Giving, 10010 North Torrey Pines Road, La Jolla, CA 92037 or to
the Egyptian Section, University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and
Anthropology, 3260 South Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104.