SPS Remembers Brent Janus
SPS-NASA Intern, 2002
Sept. 13, 1981 - Nov. 27, 2007
Brent Joseph Janus
SPS member and former National Intern Brent Janus passed away on November 27, 2007, due to complications from a respiratory infection. He was 26 years old.
Brent was a SPS National Intern in 2002, working with Dr. Larry Evans at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center on the Near Earth Asteroid Rendezvous (NEAR) project. His team’s work was later used for a display at the Smithsonian’s National Air & Space Museum. A summary of his summer work is posted on the SPS national website. Brent went on to graduate from Fort Lewis College in Durango, Colorado in 2003, with dual degrees in Physics and Political Science. Since that time, Brent has owned and operated his own web design business, while also working as an academic tutor and a research assistant.
Brent was physically challenged with Spinal Muscular Atrophy, a form of Muscular Dystrophy. He never walked, and spent his life in a motorized wheelchair. Because of his physical limitations, he was not able to fulfill his dream of graduate school in physics, though he tried every avenue imaginable to continue his studies. He never stopped being a student of physics, even as his condition deteriorated. Others in his class report calling him from graduate school with tricky problems from Quantum Mechanics, Brent’s favorite subject. Brent kept up with them, and was always able to help. In a way, Brent went to graduate school in mind if not in body.
Brent’s passing represents a deep loss to the physics community that knew him. His potential was immense. It is a great injustice that his body was not able to take him where his mind could so easily have succeeded. His legendary sense of humor and helpful spirit will be missed.
Fort Lewis College is establishing a scholarship in Brent’s name, for deserving physics students. Contributions may be made to Fort Lewis College Foundation at 1000 Rim Drive, Durango, CO 81301.
I have often thought of Brent in the years since we were interns together in Washington, DC. I remember one afternoon in particular when we were commuting together from Goddard back to DC, and we had to wait nearly an hour for a bus that had an operable wheelchair lift. He remained amiable and patient through the whole ordeal, an attitude that inspires me to this day. I am saddened to hear of his passing.
Katie Peek, UC Berkeley
2002 SPS Summer Intern
Although I didn't work directly with Brent, we did have the occasion to share some evenings out in DC. Though his list of accomplishments is remarkable, the thing I remember most about Brent is the way he joked. I often found myself the victim of his quick wit, but thanks to his good-natured demeanor, I couldn't help but laugh along with him. He will truly be missed.
Jason Tabeling, Florida State University
2002 SPS Intern