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Symposium in honor of Department of Physics Regents’ Professor

In honor of John Spence, the Department of Physics hosted the Spence Symposium in October 2022.

The symposium featured invited speakers and distinguished guests from across the globe to discuss a broad range of topics related to Spence’s scientific interests and achievements. The symposium was titled, “Imaging, Diffraction and Crystallography - where John Spence’s Legacy Leads Us”.

John Spence had a long and highly-acclaimed career in physics before passing away in June 2021. He graduated from the University of Melbourne in 1973 before pursuing a postdoc at Oxford University, where he focused on a wide variety of topics within physics. He later joined with John Cowley and the Electron Microscopy Group at ASU in 1976. Since then, Spence published several books and several hundred articles related to electron microscopy and diffraction. In 2015, he was elected as a Foreign Member of the Royal Society (ForMemRS), and as an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Microscopical Society (HonFRMS) in 2017. Spence passed away on June 28, 2021 in Boston, surrounded by his loved ones.

David Smith, Regents Professor at the Department of Physics, said he was delighted with how well the event went.

“We had over 100 people attend the event and we were very pleased with the quality and the depth and breadth of the discussions that were held during the meeting and during the breaks,” Smith said.

Smith and Spence originally met as undergraduates while still in college. After going their separate ways for their postdoctoral studies, they both eventually came work in the Department of Physics. Smith said he felt honored to help organize an event honoring his long time friend and colleague.

“This event was held to memorialize the life and times of the scientific career of John Spence. John had such a major international impact across the fields of imaging, diffraction and crystallography. He was an extraordinary scientist in his interests, activities and their impact,” Smith said.

For more information on John Spence’s life, visit