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Charles K. (Ned) Birdsall, Professor Emeritus at the University of California, Berkeley, died March 6, 2012. He was 86. Born in 1925 in Manhattan, Ned Birdsall graduated from the University of Michigan with bachelor's and master's degrees in electrical engineering, and received his PhD in electrical engineering from Stanford University in 1951. His early work on microwave tubes led to 27 patents and election to Fellow of Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) at the age of 36.
In 1959 Ned joined the Electrical Engineering Department at UC Berkeley. During his long academic career Ned became known as a pioneering inventor and educator whose contributions to plasma science have made lasting impacts on communications and other technologies. Among numerous awards, Ned was selected as the inaugural recipient for the IEEE Marie Sklodowska-Curie Award in 2011. At UC Berkeley Ned helped create two groups: the Plasma Theory and Simulation Group, and the Energy and Resources Group. Ned was awarded the Berkeley Citation in 1991.
Outside his professional life, Ned was known for his love of hiking, skiing and long-distance running. Ned is survived by Ginger, his wife of 30 years, daughter Barbara Hagen of Bend, OR, son Tom Birdsall of San Francisco, son John Birdsall of Yountville, CA; Ginger's daughter Michele Proffitt of Modesto, CA; son Andrew Pletcher of Capitola, CA and daughter Sandra Glendinning of Alameda, CA; along with eight grandchildren and one great- grandchild. He was preceded in death by daughters Anne and Beth.
A celebration of Ned's life is planned for April 29 at 1pm at the Faculty Club at UC Berkeley. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be sent to: The Charles K. (Ned) Birdsall Graduate Research Fund at University Relations, 2080 Addison Street, Berkeley, CA, 94720. Checks should be made payable to U.C. Berkeley Foundation. Or donate via the web.