Thomas Adams

October 3, 1930August 17, 2011

Thomas Adams Okemos, Michigan

Born October 3, 1930 in Buffalo, New York to Joseph and Jessie Mae Adams, Dr. Thomas Adams died suddenly and peacefully at his home August 17, 2011 at the age of 80. Dr. Adams was commissioned in the U.S. Air Force as a 2nd Lieutenant in 1951 and completed 8 years of active duty as a Captain. He earned his Bachelors Degree in Zoology from the University of Maryland, his Masters Degree in Physiology at Purdue University and his Ph.D. in Physiology from the University of Washington in Seattle. In the 1960’s, in his position with the FAA, he was involved in original research showing that jet lag was a physiological phenomenon not a psychological one. Dr. Adams was a recognized cold and heat stress expert beginning with the USAF Arctic Aeromedical Lab in Fairbanks, Alaska. He was sought after for this expertise even in recent days for legal and forensic cases. Dr. Adams joined the Michigan State University faculty in 1966 when the College of Human Medicine was created. He was a dedicated Professor of Physiology there for 44 years retiring this past December. He had a special fondness for students and he advised countless numbers of them during his career, whether they were his assigned students or not. Dr. Adams was awarded patents for many of his designs, and published numerous books and articles.

He is survived by his wife of 58 years, Margaret (Peggy); his children, Sandra Elizabeth Adams (U.S. Navy Rear Admiral select) of Redondo Beach, CA and Thomas Joseph (Dawn) Adams of Owosso, MI; brother-in-law and sister-in-law Keith and Jo Ann Miller of Central Point, OR; and special friend Pat Nieuwenhuyzen of Redondo Beach, CA.

A memorial service will be held Tuesday, August 23, at 2:00pm at Gorsline Runciman Funeral Home, 1730 E. Grand River, East Lansing. The family will receive friends 1 hour prior to the service at the chapel. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to MSU for students pursuing degrees in science in the name of Dr. Thomas Adams to: Michigan State University, 103 College of Natural Science, East Lansing, MI, 48824; or to your favorite charity. On line condolences may be made at


  • Visitation Tuesday, August 23, 2011
  • Memorial Service Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Thomas Adams

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Jason Bratten

April 26, 2012

I am very sorry to hear about the loss of Dr. Adams. I graduated from MSU in 2001 with a degree in physiology and Dr. Adams was my academic advisor. I truly cherished the time we spent together and always looked forward to our meetings. We would start with academics and course planning and then end up talking about woodworking - an interest we both shared. My thoughts and prayers go out to his family. He was a great man.

Paul Furlow

April 18, 2012

I only recently heard of the passing of Dr. Adams. He was a close mentor of mine and I would certainly not be where I am today without his guidance and recommendations. I will always hold deep appreciation and fond memories of his spirited personality and intelligence. Wherever he is, I'm sure he's riding his motorcycle.

Don Spiers

October 5, 2011

I just learned today of the passing of my mentor Tom Adams. I was a PhD student in his lab from 1975 to 1980. He taught me so much about being a physiologist and basically made me into what I am today. We still communicated about once a year and I never though this day would arrive. In fact, I talked with him on aug. 8th. I am so saddened at the loss of my mentor and friend and extend my condolences to the family.

Karthik Sivaraman

August 30, 2011

My deepest condolences to the family. I was a Physiology major at MSU and had the pleasure of being guided by Dr. Adams during my undergraduate years. Dr. Adams was and still is an inspiration to me. I am sure all of his past students feel the same way. The MSU and science community will not be the same without him.

Laurel Fairley

August 22, 2011

So sorry to hear of your loss. Sandy, you had a thoughtful and caring father who I remember well and who will certainly be missed by many. Best wishes to your family.

Nella Davis-Ray

August 22, 2011

Dear members of the Adams family,
I was one of the many MSU CNS students who had the pleasure of working with Dr. Adams. Years later I reconnected with Dr. Adams in my professional life. Over the years Dr. Adams graciously agreed to speak at many MIOSHA staff meetings about cold and heat stress. His presentations were always well received. His knowledge, enthusiasm for learning and willingness to share will be missed.

George Leroi

August 22, 2011

Dear members of the Adams family,
For all of us in the MSU College of Natural Science Dean's Office in the 1990s and 2000s who knew and admired Tom, I express our condolences over your loss.
Although Tom was recruited as a member of CHM, the undergraduate students he so graciously, and tirelessly, served were mostly in CNS, and we appreciated the care, dedication and support that Tom gave so willingly. Tom Adams helped bring the personal touch that more often is found at small institutions to our PSL and Human Biology students.
May many good memories sustain you through your time of grief.
George Leroi, Dean Emeritus