William A. Hiscock

October 31, 1951- April 21, 2009

Bill Hiscock, 57, died April 21, 2009, in Bozeman Deaconess Hospital after an 18 year long battle with light-chain deposition disease. He was born on October 31, 1951, in Santa Monica, Calif., to William and Shirley Hiscock.

He achieved the rank of Eagle Scout in 1968 and graduated from Taft High School in Woodland Hills, CA. in 1969. He received a B.S. in physics from CalTech in 1973. He completed his M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in physics at the University of Maryland. Before becoming a professor at MSU in 1984, he did postdoctoral work at Yale University, the University of Texas, Austin, and UC Santa Barbara.

As a young man, Bill was interested in hiking, rock climbing, biking and running. He was also interested in astronomy and physics from an early age. Only his eyesight kept him from pursuing his goal of becoming an astronaut. He was able to fly once he earned licenses for both gliders and private planes.

He married Barbara Oyster in 1975. They had two sons, Dale Heber Hiscock and John William Hiscock.

Bill was devoted to his career at MSU. He loved teaching and doing research equally. His active research program included investigations into topics in the quantum field of gravity, relativistic fluid dynamics, space-based gravitational wave detection, and the application of elementary particle physics to relativistic astrophysics and cosmology. All of his graduate students were important to him, and he did his best to give each a good start in his/her career.

In 1991 he added a new dimension to his work at MSU by writing a successful grant proposal that started the Montana Space Grant Consortium. MSGC is part of the National Space Grant program and is designed to provide a variety of space-related opportunities to students throughout Montana in the hopes of jump-starting their careers in the aerospace field. He was particularly interested in working with the tribal colleges around the state. He served as chairman of the National Council of Space Grant Directors, was the director of the Montana NASA EPSCoR program and belonged to the board of directors for the National EPSCoR Foundation. He was the state representative in the Aerospace Sates Association and represented MSU at the Associated Universities for Research in Astronomy.

Bill was instrumental in the National Space Grant Student Satellite Program. This program allowed students to design experiments that flew into space, design and build instruments for satellites, and experience weightlessness in a NASA aircraft fondly known as "The Vomit Comet." The high-altitude balloon program, which allowed students to send experiments into near-space, was dear to his heart. Whenever possible he attended the balloon launches in person.

Bill was also a member of the NASA LISA (Laser Interferometer Space Antenna) Mission definition team, headed the science team for OMEGA and served as education/outreach team member for THEMIS, or Time History of Events and Macroscale Interactions during Substorms.

Bill became a full professor in 1993 and served as head of the physics department from 2003 until 2008, when he stepped down for health reasons. Although he did not work on campus during the last year, he continued to work from home directing the Montana Space Grant Consortium. He was honored to serve on President Barack Obama's transition team for NASA during this time.

Among his many awards from MSU were the Anna Krueger Fridley Distinguished Teacher Award, the Wiley Faculty Award for Meritorious Research, and the Cox Family Award for Creative Scholarship and Teaching. He received a national service award from the EPSCor/IDeA Foundation and the Frank J. Malina Astronautics Medal, a worldwide award. He published more than 100 papers in gravitation theory, astrophysics, cosmology and quantum field theory.

Bill is survived by his sons, Dale and John Hiscock; his wife, Barbara Oyster; his father, Bill Hiscock; his mother, Shirley Hiscock; his sister; Laurie Danenberg; his brother, John Hiscock; his stepsister, Kim Munsinger; and his stepbrothers, Tor and Kurt Mac Innis.

Bill will be sorely missed.

A memorial service will be held at 7 p.m. Thursday, May 14, in the Hager Auditorium at the Museum of the Rockies. All are welcome to attend.

If desired, memorials may be made in Bill's name by contributing to the William A Hiscock Space Grant Scholarship Fund, http://spacegrant.org/hiscock/; or to the MSU Physics Department's William A Hiscock Scholarship Fund, contact Margaret at (406) 994-3614.

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Updated May 29, 2009