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Douglass Sterling Darrow

August 31, 1960 September 13, 2017
Douglass Sterling Darrow
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Obituary for Douglass Sterling Darrow

Douglass Sterling Darrow, age 57, of Belle Mead, New Jersey, passed away on September 13, 2017 at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in New Brunswick from complications associated with cancer.

Doug was born on August 31, 1960 in Hammond, IN to David Sterling Darrow and Margaret Douglass Darrow and grew up in Munster, IN, Allentown, PA, and Newtown, CT. A gifted student, Doug participated in the Newtown High School Math Society, French Honor Society, and National Honor Society, graduating as the valedictorian of his class of over 300 students. He was a lover of the outdoors and scouting and attained the rank of Eagle Scout. A life-long do-it-yourselfer, Doug learned many creative problem solving skills (which would serve him well in his career as a physicist) in his youth from his father, who had an unusual background in both farming and engineering.

Doug entered Michigan State University as an Alumni Distinguished Scholar, graduating in 1982 with High Honors in Physics and Computer Science. He then pursued his graduate education at Princeton University, receiving a Ph.D. in Plasma Physics in 1988. It was in the Princeton area where he would later meet his wife and raise his family. He and Connie Lau were married on July 28, 2001.

After receiving his doctorate, Doug joined the research staff at the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory, where he eventually became a Principal Research Physicist. Doug was a a world expert on measuring fast ions in magnetic fusion energy devices, which is an essential ingredient for the success of future fusion power plants. He was part of the team on the Princeton Tokamak Fusion Test Reactor (TFTR) experiment that set a world record of 10 megawatts of fusion power. He developed specialized diagnostics first for the TFTR and then for fusion experiments around the world, including the Joint European Torus (JET) and Mega Ampere Spherical Tokamak (MAST) experiments in England, the Compact Helical System (CHS) and Large Helical Device (LHD) stellarators in Japan, and the National Spherical Torus Experiment (NSTX) back in Princeton. This work led to his making several extended visits for collaboration to England and Japan, including a one-year stint as a visiting professor at the National Institute for Fusion Science in Japan. He was the main author of 20 scientific papers and a co-author on 180 more. He worked on a wide range of innovative experiments during his career, including methods for driving steady-state currents in plasmas and methods for plasma-induced biological sterilization.

He mentored a number of people over the years including Ph.D. students, undergraduate and high school student interns, and a high school teacher. Stewart Zweben, a long-time colleague of Doug's, summed up his contributions by stating, "His work displayed the highest level of craftsmanship and integrity, and his kindness and friendship within the fusion research community will be missed around the world."

Doug was generous with his time, talents, and financial resources. Examples of his generosity and service include teaching Sunday School at Westerly Road Church (now Stone Hill Church), building houses with Habitat for Humanity in places as far away as Poland, and supporting the Princeton chapter of International Students, Inc. as a member of its leadership team.

To those who knew him best, Doug will be remembered as a faithful Christian, a devoted husband and father, a loving son and brother, and a thoughtful, wise, and caring friend. He is survived by his wife Connie and their three children, a daughter and two sons, all of Belle Mead, NJ, his mother Margaret of Sandy Spring, MD, his brother Dale (Amy) of Columbia, MD, and nine nieces and nephews.

A viewing will be held on Friday, September 22, from 6:00—8:00 PM at Stone Hill Church, 1025 Bunn Drive, Princeton, NJ 08540. The funeral will occur at Stone Hill Church at 9:30 AM on Saturday, September 23, followed by interment. After the graveside service, there will be a lunch at Stone Hill Church. All are welcome at these events.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to the Darrow Family Education Fund set up for the three children. To donate, please visit the YouCaring website

To plant a tree in memory of Douglass Sterling Darrow, visit the Tribute Store.

Previous Events





6:00 PM 9/22/2017 6:00:00 PM - 8:00 PM 9/22/2017 8:00:00 PM
Stone Hill Church

1025 Bunn Dr.
Princeton, NJ 08540

Stone Hill Church
1025 Bunn Dr. Princeton 08540 NJ
United States





9:30 AM 9/23/2017 9:30:00 AM - 11:00 AM 9/23/2017 11:00:00 AM
Stone Hill Church

1025 Bunn Dr.
Princeton, NJ 08540

Stone Hill Church
1025 Bunn Dr. Princeton 08540 NJ
United States

Cemetery Details


Highland Cemetery Final Resting Place

Greenwood Ave.
Hopewell, NJ

Greenwood Ave. Hopewell NJ
United States

Memorial Contribution

Darrow Family Education Fund

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