Akira Hirose PhD, DSc, FAPS, FIEEE, FRSC

16 August 1941 to 20 November 2017



I am here with great sadness in my heart to pay academic tribute to Dr. Akira Hirose, emeritus professor of Physics & Engineering Physics. 


Although this is an academic tribute my first thoughts are sympathies for Dr. Hirose’s family here with us today: his wife Kimiko, son Tad, daughter Kyoko, and his grandchildren.  Akira’s colleagues and friends are also in my thoughts today. 


Dr. Hirose completed his BSc and MSc at Yokohama National University, and his PhD at University of Tennessee followed by a research scientist position at Oakridge National lab.  He joined the University of Saskatchewan Physics Department in 1971 as research scientist, faculty in 1977, full professor in 1979, and led the Plasma Physics Laboratory since 1994.  He served as Department Head of Physics & Engineering Physics from 1998-2001 and held a Canada Research Chair from 2001 until his retirement in 2015.


Dr. Hirose made pioneering theoretical and experimental contributions to the basic understanding of waves and instabilities in plasmas (ionized gases) and their effects on diffusion and heating of plasmas.   Dr. Hirose was responsible for building the first Canadian tokamak:  a magnetic plasma containment device for developing energy from controlled fusion. The STOR-1M tokamak, and its successor STOR-M, continues to be the only active tokamak in Canada.  These tokamaks were used to demonstrate alternating current operation of a tokamak for the first time, an operation mode later adopted by the Joint European tokamak.  Dr. Hirose has also carried out groundbreaking work with STOR-M on the development of compact torus injection fueling technology to meet the needs of future large tokamak reactors.


Akira’s research accomplishments are incredible in their scope and impact: over 330 publications, including books, and book chapters. His accomplishments were recognized with numerous national and international honours including: Fellow of the Academy of Science of the Royal Society of Canada; Fellow of European Academy of Science; Fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE); Fellow of the American Physical Society; IEEE (the“I triple E”) Nuclear and Plasma Sciences Society Merit Award and Plasma Science and Applications Award; Saskatchewan Centennial Medal; University of Saskatchewan Distinguished Researcher Award and earned D.Sc.  His award citations state, "For pioneering contributions to the understanding of linear waves, instabilities, and turbulent heating in plasmas and confinement studies in tokamaks"; and, “for outstanding contributions to theoretical/experimental work on basic and fusion related plasma science including studies on waves, turbulent heating, quasi-steady state operation and anomalous transport in tokamaks.”


Dr. Hirose was also a distinguished teacher, a legendary instructor of an advanced EM theory graduate course which students described as a profound experience.  I personally learned much from reading the questions that Dr. Hirose developed, and gained a deep appreciation for the elegant approximations he suggested to students.  Dr. Hirose supervised more than 30 MSc/PhD theses and supervised many postdoctoral fellows and research associates, helping ensure continued progress in science and engineering for the benefit of humanity.


As a department head, Dr. Hirose was an effective, compelling and compassionate leader.  He provided a role model that helped me develop as an academic leader, and I gained a profound appreciation for Dr. Hirose’s ability to enact change like the waves on the shore: gently, slowly, tirelessly, and irresistibly.


Dr. Hirose brought research honour and prestige to the University of Saskatchewan through his talent, tireless work ethic, and dedication. He also gave dedicated service to the University through teaching and administrative roles.  There is nothing more that the University of Saskatchewan could have asked from Dr. Hirose: may he rest in peace.


Dr. Tom Steele

Professor and Head 

Department of Physics and Engineering Physics

20 December 2017