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Rohan Jayasundera

It is with heavy hearts and immeasurable sadness that we share with you the news that Rohan Jayasundera has passed.

Rohan worked as a phone installer for Bell while he completed his undergrad degree (’84) and started full time work here as a lab demonstrator after graduation. He was involved first in teaching labs (some now defunct) and looked after Phys 111L 112L 353L courses for over a decade. He was given an opportunity to teach Phys 111 and 112 lectures, a role that he excelled in.  He received a distinguished teacher award in his first year lecturing, and was soon promoted to continuing lecturer and undergraduate advisor.

Rohan was a master physics teacher, setting the standard for all to aspire.  Over the years he taught first-year students — most often engineers — the basics of Newtonian mechanics with energy, enthusiasm, and empathy. Not only did he know the names of each student in his classes, he also got to know many of them personally: their interests, their backgrounds, and their ideals. His office hours were perpetually populated by curious students seeking his friendly and encouraging style accompanying a razor-sharp mind. Students always came first for Rohan, and they knew it.  He often selflessly arranged unofficial help sessions on Saturday mornings to ensure all were supported.

Rohan had a rare blend of humility and shrewdness that made him a model departmental citizen. He knew how to navigate the university system, always with the highest goals and best intentions. He sought to improve the teaching profile of the department by mentoring junior faculty and organizing teaching workshops. He sought-out new and better teaching methods implementing those that improved the classroom experience. 

Rohan was a devoted father, husband, and man of faith. He loved cricket, hockey, and bad jokes.

We have lost an enduring light to the physics department, the faculty of science, and the university of Waterloo.  We miss him dearly.


Energy is present everywhere in the universe, from the tiniest particles to the vastness of space. According to quantum mechanics, vacuum states like outer space are not actually empty, because when observed at microscopic scales, there are spontaneous energy fluctuations.