Passings: Professor Emerita of Physics Helen Freedhoff

Helen Freedhoff

Helen Freedhoff

Professor Emerita Helen Freedhoff was a by all descriptions a trendsetter who was well ahead of her time. She was a highly regarded academic, researcher and theoretical physicist. A graduate of the University of Toronto, Prof. Freedhoff (nee Goodman) taught physics at York University. She died suddenly on June 10 while at her cottage in Muskoka. She was 77 years old.

A researcher with a long list of published papers, Prof. Freedhoff was known for pushing the boundaries of theoretical physics. She sought to further the basic understanding of the interaction of radiation with matter, with emphasis on multilevel, multiatom, and multiphoton processes. She worked to develop a new theory to describe novel physical phenomena in strongly-coupled light-plus-atom systems. Freedhoff focused on the areas of cooperative atomic effects, intense field resonance fluorescence, and two-photon transitions.

Prof. Freedhoff was born in Toronto and excelled in the sciences, having graduated from the University of Toronto with the highest marks, she was awarded the Governor General’s Gold Medal. After earning her PhD in physics, she was appointed an assistant professor at York University in 1967. At the time of her appointment, she believed she may have been the only woman in Canada teaching at the university level in her field. She took a keen interest in her students and was responsible for many of them under her guidance continuing their careers in science.

She was predeceased by her parents Sholom and Ethel Goodman (Kohl). She leaves her husband Stephen of 57 years, her daughter Michal (Michael Van Leeuwen), her son Yoni (Stacey Segal), her brother David Goodman, her grandchildren, Zahava, Rena, Talia, Sammy, Leah, Vivienne and Yael.

A funeral service took place Monday, June 12 at Benjamin’s Park Memorial Chapel. Shiva will be held at 38 Alexandra Wood, Toronto, Ont. Morning services daily at 7:45am. Evening services at 8:45pm. Shiva will conclude Sunday morning, June 18.

Donations in Prof. Freedhoff’s memory can be made to Associated Hebrew Schools, Ethel and Sholom Goodman Fund.

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