Juliusz Kruszelnicki with a black lab and a golden retriever on a wooden bridge on a hike

Remembering Dr. Juliusz Kruszelnicki: A Brilliant Mind, Mentor, and Friend

Honoring the legacy of an exceptional nuclear engineer and plasma scientist.

It is with profound sorrow that we remember and honor the life of Juliusz Kruszelnicki, a brilliant mind and cherished member of the Nuclear Engineering & Radiological Sciences community at the University of Michigan. Juliusz’s sudden and untimely passing at the end of last year has left an indelible mark on our hearts. He will be remembered as a dedicated researcher, colleague, and friend.

Juliusz, born in Poznan, Poland, began his academic journey with unwavering determination and intellectual curiosity. He earned his B.Sc. in Nuclear Engineering from the University of Florida in 2015, followed by a Master’s degree and culminating in a Ph.D. in Nuclear Engineering from the University of Michigan in 2021, where he excelled with a GPA of 3.98.

His passion for computational solutions to complex physical systems was evident throughout his academic and professional journey. Under the guidance of Professor Mark J. Kushner, Juliusz’s research interests spanned a wide array of topics, including low-temperature plasma chemical systems, plasma catalysis, plasma-liquid interactions, and the integration of Machine Learning, Monte Carlo, kinetic, and fluid approaches for modeling plasma etching of semiconductors.

Juliusz was not only a brilliant researcher but also a dedicated teacher and mentor. He played a crucial role in the development and implementation of high-performance models, always seeking first-principles representation of interacting physical and chemical phenomena. His expertise extended to various programming languages, including Fortran, C++, Python, and more, showcasing his versatility and commitment to excellence.

Following his academic achievements, Juliusz continued his impactful work as a Research Scientist, contributing significantly to the field. His collaboration with industry leaders, including KLA Corporation and Tokyo Electron – America Corporation, showcased his ability to bridge the gap between academia and real-world applications.

Juliusz’s legacy extends beyond his professional accomplishments. Those who were fortunate enough to know him personally speak of his kindness, warmth, and generosity. His willingness to help others, evident in his bright smile and the glow of happiness in his eyes, left a lasting impression on everyone he encountered.

As we mourn the loss of Juliusz Kruszelnicki, we offer our deepest condolences to his family, particularly his wife, Janis Lai. We share in the grief of his family, friends, colleagues, and the entire nuclear engineering community. Here are just a few heartfelt tributes from his colleagues and friends, offering glimpses into the brilliance, kindness, and camaraderie that defined Juliusz Kruszelnicki’s life:

I met Juliusz when he was a PhD student at U-M and we both were in the CPSEG lab. I still can remember the very first day that I met him in Prof. Kushner’s group; his friendliness and warm welcoming attitude. He was a kind person who cared a lot about others – not only his friends but everyone, those who radiate goodwill. He helped me with so many things through my projects and always with his bright smile and the glow of happiness in his eyes which will be remembered forever. My heart is with his family and his wife, Janis Lai. 

—Soheila Mohades

I am very sorry to hear the sad news about Juliusz, who was so brilliant in research and so nice in treating people. I recall the days in U-M, Juliusz helped me so much, he really guided me the way to modeling with the code. I remembered once Juliusz talked me about his family in Europe, and his elder sister in America. He told me Janis was his girlfriend (at that time), and I was honored to participant the droplet work that I could worked with the brilliant couple. I think Juliusz as a true friend, and I would never forget the days in U-M with him teaching me how to use nonPDPSIM, and all the discussions on our research. Please send my condolence to Janis if you ever see her. May Juliusz rest in peace in Heaven.

—Wenjun Ning

I used to be in the same research lab with Juliusz at the University of Michigan and we had 4 years’ overlap there. Besides, we both worked at KLA and had 1.5 years’ overlap there. It is my great pleasure to have known such a nice, smart and gentle person, and to have shared long study and work experience with him. He was a person with huge perseverance which made him go through all the difficulties both in work and life, and he always showed positive sides with sunshine to others. I clearly remember the days when we studied in classes, did research in the lab, attended conferences all over the country, and worked in the same team in the company. Dear friend, I will keep you in my prayers, always, always. 

Shuo Huang

Juliusz should not only be remembered for being an exceptionally intelligent and gifted scientist, but also for being an incredible friend. For someone who always claimed to dislike people, he had a way of bringing them together and forging friendships between the unlikeliest groups of people. He considered his friends to be his family and was always there to lend a helping hand or a listening ear, even after he had moved across the country. I still don’t have the words to express what his support and mentorship meant to me throughout my graduate school experience. Whether it was about grad school advice, handyman tips, college football, or even helping to purchase my first car, Juliusz was never more than a text or a phone call away. I will forever miss our exchange of puns, music, YouTube videos, recipes, and our arguments about which of Dom’s donuts is superior. I’ll always be thankful for the times we got to spend together and for the memories we made. Despite what he thought, anyone who knew him was better for it. Go gators, J! 

—Jordyn Polito

Only a few individuals truly extend themselves to assist colleagues in times of dire need, and Juliusz exemplified this rarity. Despite our paths not crossing at U-M, he guided me through the intricacies of the work and navigating U-M’s landscape during numerous phone calls and Zoom meetings during the pandemic. His generosity, intelligence, and eloquence were evident in every conversation, serving as a continual source of inspiration. Juliusz’s impact was profound, evident in the fond memories shared by everyone in the lab. The community mourns the loss of a shining star, and his absence will be keenly felt.

—Sanjana Kerketta

In my memory, Dr. Juliusz Kruszelnicki was not only a reliable former colleague, but also a very brilliant friend who always helped, encouraged, and inspired me in every way. He was my best MIPSE interview partner and was truly responsive. I will never forget when he told me that I am a very dedicated person and cheered me up before my first oral conference presentation at GEC in Pittsburgh back in 2017. Outside of work, Juliusz was like a funny and cool brother to me. He rode motorcycles and always wanted to show me how to make a donut with a car in parking lots. During ICOPS in Banff, Canada, he generously shared his room with whoever didn’t receive a room for the last night’s stay. I remember when I told him that everyone snored on the following day. He laughed and replied in a naughty way, “Yes, they did. Not me.” I am so thankful that we have had lots of great time together. I will always miss him. A beautiful spirit has traveled away but will remain in our hearts. Peace be with him!

—Yao E. Kovach

The world Juliusz shared with us, and especially the NERS community, will miss him. He was a pleasure to recruit. I remember his ready smile and the twinkle in his eyes always brightened my day. I am very sorry to hear about his passing. Life can be so very unfair at times. His passing is our loss. 

—Peggy Jo Gramer

The world has lost a brilliant plasma scientist. Always curious and always willing to entertain other possibilities. He never disparaged anyone’s science questions. He was a good person–friendly and approachable with a great sense of humor. The kind of attributes that we need to see more of in science. He was also a good friend. I respected him highly. As was said by a famous poet “Life is no brief candle to me. It is a sort of splendid torch which I am permitted to hold for the moment, and I want to make it burn as brightly as possible before handing it on to future generations.” And Juliusz’s candle did burn brightly but it just was handed off too soon. He had so much more to give. Let us take that candle and continue to move the field. 

Juliusz will be sorely missed… 

–John E. Foster

As Juliusz’s advisor, our relationship was more professional than many described here – and perhaps that is the most telling concluding comment to make. Juliusz was the consummate professional, and I cannot heap greater praise on a student than saying that. He certainly enriched peoples’ lives and made huge personal impacts outside the office. That said, Juliusz was a professional in the office, a trait that became clear early in his graduate studies. He was very serious about his responsibilities to the projects, to other group members and to the studies to which he was committed. He aspired to do excellent science and he wanted to translate that science to practice. And he succeeded in doing both, as a professional, with a willingness to share his professionalism with others. We as faculty members experience students who focus solely on their own priorities and, at the end of the day, leave the group in less good shape than when they entered. Juliusz was the antiparticle of that practice. The group, the group members and the science we pursued were far better off when Juliusz graduated from the group than when he started. 

-Mark J. Kushner