Dr. Graham Allan,

Dr. Graham Robert Allan, PhD

Saturday, March 21st, 1959 - Friday, May 15th, 2020
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Dr. Graham R. Allan

On May 15, 2020, Dr. Graham Robert Allan of Columbia, MD., passed peacefully at his home. He was born on March 21, 1959 in Irvine, Scotland to the late William and Louisa Mary (Woods) Allan.

From 1977-1988, Graham earned his Physics degrees, BsC and Doctorate, from Heriot-Watt University, in Edinburgh, Scotland. He went to France and worked at Laboratories National des Champs Magnetiques Intense (High Magnetic Field Lab) in Grenoble. Graham liked to say, “I worked in France for one skiing season!”

In 1989 the University of Iowa offered Graham a position with their renowned Laser Science Center. Graham knew how to work hard, as well as play hard. He was heavily involved in the University of Iowa’s Sailing Club. To the people of Maryland, Graham would always say, “First of all - yes - there really is a University of Iowa Sailing Club. They are very skilled sailors. Graham oversaw the maintenance of all the boats, in their many fleets. They adored Graham so much they allowed him to spell “Harbourmaster”, the British way.

While in Iowa City, he met Tanya Hoegh, a music teacher in the area. They went sailing on their first date. Graham would say, “The wind across a sail works exactly like air across an airplane wing. Just imagine the airplane wing, vertical. What he got in return, from Tanya, was a blank stare. Graham was a great educator, and Tanya learned all about that, over time.

They left Iowa, destined for the Land of Enchantment, in 1994. Graham accepted a Professor of Physics position at Highlands University, in Las Vegas, New Mexico. In his spare time, Graham leapt at the chance to help coach their nationally ranked men’s Rugby team.

In 1998, NASA called. Graham began employment with NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, in Greenbelt, Maryland. Specializing predominantly in nonlinear optics, semiconductor physics, remote sensing and laser characterization, he has over 100 scientific publications and three patents. Using LIDAR, some of his projects have included measuring polar ice caps, the water vapor on Mars and carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

Graham was an energetic and adventurous soul. Favorite activities included Sailing, Ice Boating (sailing on a frozen lake!), Skiing, Hiking, Rugby, Diving, Drawing, Aeronautics and Photography. He was “Team Photographer” for the Columbia Jazz Band, in Columbia, Maryland. Tanya is a saxophone player in the group. Graham was an active member of the Cape St. Claire Yacht Club. He raced every Wednesday and Friday night on the Magothy. When there was an opportunity to race on the Chesapeake, he and his crew would be there.

Graham is survived by his beloved wife Tanya M. Hoegh-Allan, his siblings; Douglas Allan and his wife Trisha and Ian Allan and their families of Largs, Scotland, his sister-in-law Tove Lockie and her husband Kevin of Riceville, IA. He is also survived by nieces and nephews; Scott Allan and his partner Rachel McCallum and children of Largs, Scotland, Christopher Lockie and his wife Corrine and children of Racine, WI., Kyle Lockie and his wife Sara and children of Ankeny, IA and Mariah Abel and her husband Nathan and son, of Wilcox, NE.

Graham was a perfect blend of intellect, adventure and wit.

Graham was cremated and A Celebration of his life is being planned for a later date. In lieu of flowers memorial contributions in Dr. Allan's name may be directed to the American Cancer Society ( or to the Columbia Jazz Band ( specify Columbia Jazz Band)

The family wishes to encourage the continued sharing of stories and memories of Graham’s life. They have given them joy during this difficult time.
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Private Condolence
Plant a Tree in Memory of Dr. Graham
2 trees have been planted in memory of Dr. Graham Robert Allan, PhD

Paul Stysley

Posted at 01:45pm
In memory of Graham's great work at GSFC and friendly personally. Deepest sympathy to his friends and family.
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A memorial tree was planted in the memory of Dr. Graham Allan, — Plant a Tree Now

Anne MacKenzie

Posted at 07:53am
A few photos from Scotland. Graham's first Graduation with his Mum and brother Douglas. At the helm on the West Coast of Scotland and taking crew (Bill Black and Danielle Blanc) ashore from the same trip ( a cruise around the island of Mull). Finally a photo from 2002 at Stephen Najda's book launch with Anne MacKenzie and Stephen Najda. Happy memories. Sending love xx

Tom Gleeson

Posted at 09:15pm
Graham & Tanya had style when they returned to the midwest for New Years parties!

Tom Gleeson

Posted at 08:38pm
I had the pleasure of transferring a Tartan 10 back to Chicago from the Chicago - Mackinac race 3 times with a "real" sailor. However, after a couple of the trips we were tired of Graham redoing everything. WE WERE JUST CRUISING! But Graham still had to optimize. So, one day we mutinied and refused to help, forcing him to do everything.

douglas allan

Posted at 10:29am
I was at your graduation in Edinburgh and have followed your career ever since. We shall miss you very much. Douglas, Patricia and Scott.
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A memorial tree was planted in the memory of Dr. Graham Allan, — Plant a Tree Now

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