Samuel Thomas Wadley Raoul Bingham (he had a lot of names but just went by Sam), approached the Covid-19 pandemic like the scientist that he was—with new experiments—baking sourdough bread from a starter he created and crafting Kimchi. His calculations for the sourdough starter were carefully recorded. He delivered the bread he made to his colleagues at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Lab (APL) who lived nearby, in Baltimore, Maryland.
He was a postdoctoral fellow at APL, in Laurel, MD., who studied and reported on the earth’s magnetosphere. He analyzed data from spacecraft such as the Van Allen probes to learn more about the interactions of solar wind with the magnetosphere.
Sam received his bachelor’s degree in physics and mathematics from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst in May 2010. Throughout his four years of college he worked at WMUA, the UMass radio station, hosting late night music sets with friends and became the sports director, traveling around the US with the UMass Women’s Basketball team.
In May 2019, Sam received his PhD in physics, specializing in space physics, from the University of New Hampshire. He studied space physics under Chris Moikis and Lynn Kistler. Throughout grad school he was very active in the intramural sports community - he never said no to being a team captain for any sport. He also became an active kayaker and attended a roll clinic at the university’s pool each week.
He was an expert skier who learned to ski as a child in the Appalachian Mountains of North Carolina. During high school he began teaching ski lessons and was a member of ski patrol at Wolf Ridge. He worked one summer at a ski camp at Mount Hood, Oregon, and briefly had a spot on the UMass ski team. Shortly before he graduated from UMass, Sam and his father took a long-delayed spring ski excursion to Tuckerman’s Ravine of Mount Washington. The Tuckerman’s trip became an annual event for Sam and his graduate school friends. His love of the White Mountains of New Hampshire was year-round, but he used to joke that North Carolina had entire mountain ranges higher than Mount Washington.
He loved to travel, as he often planned trips around his love of snow, mountaineering, and cheap airfare. Just after he graduated from UMass he summited Mount Kilimanjaro with his father. In the winter of 2012 he traveled to Ecuador with his cousins Kevin and Emily to hike Andean mountains on the equator. He also
Cross-country skiing in northern Sweden
traveled to Guatemala, Norway, the Azores, Sweden, Spain, and France during grad school to ski and hike.
He loved learning more about other cultures, and making friends from all over the world. Greatly troubled by attitudes against those from Muslim countries, he wrote on his Facebook page to thank every person he had met from Muslim countries for the positive impact they had on his life, saying, “Thank you for being you”.
Sam was very serious about his work, studies, and skiing, but he was a very goofy individual. Growing up in a household filled with Corgis, he loved to make them play the piano, just imagine a stubby little corgi walking on a piano. He never missed a moment to make up a silly nickname for his close friends and younger sister. His sense of humor was very wry and his practical jokes were always apropos and spot on.
Sam loved sports. From the time he was a small child, he studied baseball stats in the newspaper. He greatly enjoyed watching the annual NFL draft perhaps more than watching the actual games. Sam was true Atlanta Falcons fan and never got his hopes up for their success due to their inability to hold a 25-point third-quarter lead on the way to a 34-28 overtime loss in Super Bowl LI. Through sports he kept up with old friends and created bonds with new ones by sending updates and attending games when visiting different cities.
He took his life the weekend of July 4, 2020. He was among the more than 50% of people in the United States who died by suicide who did not have a known mental health condition. His family wants other families and colleagues to know that virtually anyone can be at risk and to talk about mental wellness with their family, friends, and colleagues. These are extraordinary times with extraordinary stresses that challenge even the most resilient of us.
Sam was born August 10, 1988, in Decatur, Georgia. He was a 2006 graduate of Decatur High School. He is survived by his parents, Thomas and Sara Bingham of Decatur, Georgia; his sister, Leah Eleonore Bingham of Brooklyn, New York; and his beloved Corgi, Pisgah. He was the grandson of the late, Robert and June Lambert of Bowling Green, Virginia and Samuel A. and Jane Raoul Bingham of Asheville, North Carolina.