In Memoriam

Gary McCue
Dr. Gary McCue, esteemed alumnus and friend of the UC Irvine School of Physical Sciences, died on December 8, 2016.   Gary was passionate about supporting research and took immense pride in underwriting the McCue Fellows Program in Cosmology.  His support has been instrumental in shaping the careers of young people, many of whom have gone on to be shining stars in the field of cosmology. You can read about the McCue Fellows here. “The Center for Cosmology at UC Irvine would not exist were it not for Gary McCue’s generous support and vision,” says James Bullock, Professor of Physics & Astronomy. "He truly valued our efforts and we will always be grateful for his leadership." Gary’s family requests that if you would like to donate in honor of Gary, to please support graduate fellowship research in his name via the following link: http://connect.uci.edu/Gary-McCue-Memorial  To donate via mail, please make checks payable to the "UCI Foundation" with “Gary McCue Chair and Fellowship in Cosmology” specified in the memo section.  Donations may be sent to: Marijana Lekousis UCI School of Physical Sciences 162 Rowland Hall Irvine, CA 92697 Should you have any questions regarding giving, please contact Marijana Lekousis, at marijana@uci.edu or 949-824-8111. You may leave tributes and condolences for the McCue family below.  
Ralph Cicerone
Ralph J. Cicerone, fourth chancellor of the University of California, Irvine and internationally acclaimed atmospheric chemist, died Saturday, Nov. 5, 2016. He was 73. Cicerone’s research helped shape environmental policy at the highest levels nationally and globally. As chancellor of UCI from 1998 to 2005, he oversaw a rapid rise in its academic capabilities as well as the construction of major research halls and the $375 million teaching hospital at UC Irvine Medical Center. Cicerone left UCI after being elected president of the National Academy of Sciences, where he wielded international clout on scientific issues until his retirement in 2016. “For his powerful and profound work as a chemist and Earth system scientist, and for his recognized stature in his discipline, we in academia salute Ralph Cicerone,” said UCI’s sixth and current chancellor, Howard Gillman. “For his courageous work uncovering the causes and effects of climate change, the world owes him a debt of gratitude. And from UCI, we offer Ralph our own special thanks for his extraordinary contributions to the global preeminence of this institution.” Cicerone arrived at UCI in 1989 and was founding chair of the Department of Earth System Science, which has grown to international prominence, and dean of the School of Physical Sciences. “Ralph played a central role in moving the School of Physical Sciences and UCI to a premier position as a top research university,” said Kenneth C. Janda, current physical...
Chad Cantwell
Chad Cantwell was born on September 3, 1981. He came to UC Irvine as an undergraduate student in 1997. Known as a "Gifted Student" throughout his K-12 education, Chad was very successful in his computer science studies at UCI. In 1999, he met Domingos Begalli who, as his professor, saw Chad’s great talent in programming and hired him to be part of his team at the UCI School of Physical Sciences Computing Office. Chad worked on various technical projects to support the School's professors and research centers. In recent years Chad has been instrumental in the School's GreenPlanet Intel Cluster, which is a cutting-edge computer cluster that enables researchers to run computational experiments, and build complex simulations and modeling. One of the most notable projects using GreenPlanet is the ATLAS Experiment of CERN's Large Hadron Collider, which is known as one of the two experiments that proved the existence of the Higgs boson. The ATLAS team worked directly with Chad to store, analyze and compute the experiment's data using GreenPlanet.  "Our faculty here at the School do incredible research, but none of it could be possible without the technical support of our dedicated IT team. Chad was a key player during the 15 years he was here and we will miss him dearly," says Karl S. Wolonsky, Assistant Dean of the UCI School of Physical Sciences. “He was the backbone of our group,” says Will Kitto. “So many people relied on him.” Will worked as a programmer with Chad since their...
Norman Rostoker
UC Irvine professor Norman Rostoker, the father of breakthrough clean nuclear fusion energy techniques via plasma-based accelerators, died on Christmas Day in Irvine, Calif. He was 89. Rostoker cared deeply about using clean fusion as a source of almost unlimited, nonpolluting energy for human development. As soon as he had established the theoretical foundation for the technology, he turned his attention to its realization. “Professor Norman Rostoker was a creative, brilliant thinker. He has created a legacy that will impact humanity far into the future,” said Kenneth Janda, UCI physical sciences dean and professor. “At UC Irvine, he led the Department of Physics & Astronomy into a position of leadership in fusion research and was an inspiration and mentor to many dozens of students who are today’s leaders in applied physics and technology.” In addition to serving on UCI’s faculty, Rostoker co-founded Tri Alpha Energy with prominent physicists, including Nobel Prize winner Glenn Seaborg, to implement his ideas to develop a clean source of fusion-based energy. His colleagues have subsequently shown the value of many of his notions. According to Michl Binderbauer, a former student and chief technology officer at TAE, Rostoker had an unusual ability to reverse-engineer a problem, leading to innovative insights and novel concepts for their implementation. “He also excelled at the ‘never surrender’ notion,” Binderbauer noted. “Without his steadfastness and strength of...
James N. Pitts Jr.
James N. Pitts Jr. was born in Salt Lake City, Utah, on January 10, 1921 to Esther Bengtson and James N. Pitts.  The family moved when he was six months old to Los Angeles, which made him a "native Californian within experimental error", as he liked to say.  He attended Manual Arts High School and then UCLA where he was introduced as an undergraduate to research in photochemistry by Professor F. E. Blacet.  After the attack on Pearl Harbor, Professor Blacet took a leave to become part of a civilian chemical corps for the National Defense Research Committee (1942-45); he asked Jim to join the group, working on the development of gas masks to protect Allied troops in the field.  After the war ended, Jim returned to UCLA to finish his B.S. and then in 1949, his Ph.D.  During this time, he did one of the first science shows on Los Angeles television with Arnold Miller, also in the Blacet research group.  He married Nancy Quirt in 1946 and joined the faculty at Northwestern University in 1949.  He thoroughly enjoyed Northwestern and his colleagues there, but the weather was a challenge for a California family.  Thus, it was with some regret but also with enthusiasm for taking on new challenges that he returned to California in 1954 as a founding faculty member of the new University of California Riverside campus.  His research focused on fundamental photochemistry, and in 1966 he coauthored with Jack Calvert a book that remains a classic in that area. He held an M.A. degree from...
Mare Taagepera
Mare Rünk was born on May 16 1938 in Narva, Estonia. In 1944, she fled to the west along with her mother, to avoid the Soviet terror. Their family moved to New Jersey in 1951. She studied in Finland in 1960/61 and married Rein Taagepera, presently Professor Emeritus at UCI, in October 1961. Since 1971, she taught at the University of California, Irvine, becoming a Senior Lecturer in Chemistry. From 1996 on, she was also a Visiting Professor at the University of Tartu in her native Estonia. Mare first came to UC Irvine as a postdoctoral fellow with Professor Robert Taft, after receiving her Ph.D. in Physical Organic Chemistry at the University of Pennsylvania in 1971. She was appointed as a Lecturer in the Department of Chemistry in 1975. Her lifelong ambition was to make chemistry relevant and accessible to everyone. Not only was Mare passionate about teaching organic chemistry to UCI students, she worked tirelessly to transform science education in general, and especially K-12 education in Orange County. Probably if one polled the Chemistry teachers of Orange County to name one UCI faculty member, Mare would be the most often remembered person. Mare helped found the UCI Summer Science Institute in 1982 with the goal of providing continuing education for high school teachers.  Mare was active in the American Chemical Society Division of Chemical Education. She served on the National Academy of Sciences Committee on Research in Science and Technology Education and as the...
F. Sherwood Rowland
  Celebrating Curiosity and the Finest Spirit of Science  Campaign for an Endowed Chair & Fellowship Fund In Honor of Professor F. Sherwood Rowland In December of 1973, Professor F. Sherwood “Sherry” Rowland came home one evening from his lab at UC Irvine.  Rowland’s wife Joan asked him how the work was going.  “The work is going very well,” he told her.  “But it may mean the end of the world.”  More than twenty years later, in the fall of 1995, Professor Rowland received a call from Stockholm with the news that he had been awarded the Nobel Prize.  The award was for Rowland and his post-doctoral student Mario Molina’s ground-breaking work as the first scientists to warn that chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) released into the atmosphere were depleting the earth’s vital ozone layer—and that this depletion would become catastrophic.   While a Nobel Prize would be considered a crowning moment for any scientist, Professor Rowland cites the most satisfying moment of his career as that afternoon in early December 1973, in his lab at UC Irvine when he and Molina looked at one another in a moment of stunned awareness of the consequences of their findings.  Ever one for rigorous skepticism, Rowland insisted they replicate every calculation over a period of three days, searching for an error that would invalidate their results.  There was no error.   The research of Rowland and his group brought worldwide attention to the impact of human-contributed pollution on a planetary scale. It...
Myron Bander
The School of Physical Sciences laments the death of Professor Myron Bander, who passed away on December 20, 2012. Bander graduated from Columbia University with a Bachelor's degree in Physics, 1958, M.S., 1959 and Ph.D., 1962. He was an NSF Postdoctoral Fellow at CERN, University of Copenhagen and University of Paris, 1962-63, and a Research Associate at Stanford Linear Accelerator Center, 1963-66. He came to UC Irvine as Assistant Professor in July 1966. Among his service activities included two terms of Department Chair, 1978-80 and 1992-95, and as the third Dean of the School of Physical Sciences, 1980-86. Myron was devoted to excellence at UCI. In quiet, often unrecognized ways, he was an academic leader throughout his career here. He served on various Senate and Departmental committees; and was on the Board of Directors of the American Committee for the Weizmann Institute of Science, 1986-2001. He was on the teams that started the Department of Earth System Science and that worked to elevate the Department of Physics and Astronomy’s Cosmology group to world-class excellence. Bander's contributions to theoretical physics covered a broad range of topics. He was first and foremost an elementary particle theorist, but his work and expertize extended over wide areas of quantum field theory, statistical mechanics, and general relativity. In pursuing his research he was a frequent and welcome visitor with the theory groups of most of the major particle physics laboratories...
William Davidson
The School of Physical Sciences laments the death of William Davidson, who passed away during his sleep in the early hours of December 17, 2012. He was a dear friend and colleague to many at the School. Bill worked in Physical Sciences (PS) Stores since August 2001. He was an extraordinary employee who worked beyond his job description helping to make the School of Physical Sciences the organization that it is. His core job was to manage PS stores so that supplies would be available when needed in an economical, efficient way. But he did much more than that. Among his recent projects was the thoughtful creation of the Rowland Hall lobby exhibit -- in honor of Nobel laureate F. Sherwood Rowland . He was in the process of working on a similar display in honor of Nobel laureate Frederick Reines. Bill surpassed every hurdle to make each of these projects a great success. Bill was much more than just a fellow co-worker. To many, he was a friend, a confidant, an encyclopedia of interesting facts that you didn’t know you needed to know, a fellow dog lover, a comedic break when you needed it most, and more importantly, Bill was family. He had an amazing range of interests and could discuss almost any topic in great detail. He will truly be missed by all that were fortunate to know him. To commemorate Bill's life and his avid dedication to the UCI School of Physical Sciences, the School dedicated a bench in his name. The bench is grounded in the Physical Sciences near Aldrich Park. ...
Meinhard Mayer
Meinhard Mayer, Professor Emeritus of Physics and Astronomy at the University of California, Irvine, died in Newport Beach, California on December 11, 2011 after a brief, but devastating bout with esophageal cancer. His nickname "Hardy," by which he was known to all of his family, friends, and colleagues, is also an apt characterization of the personal qualities he brought to bear in overcoming an early life of oppression before, during, and after World War II to carve out a career as a mathematical physicist and a contributing scholar with broad intellectual and technological interests. His principal physics interests lay in the formal geometric aspects of gauge theories and statistical mechanics, but he also developed during his career an expertise in electrical engineering and in analog and digital electronics, as well as in computers and computer languages, and contributed to the use of the latter in physics education. Hardy Mayer was born on March 18, 1929 in Czernowitz, capital of the Bukovina district (at the time under the control of Romania, and currently a part of Ukraine). His father was a doctor, and he grew up in a culturally stimulating home exposed to evenings filled with music and readings of literature, particularly featuring young Yiddish writers. However, living under the Romanian royal regime, he and his family experienced many forms and examples of antisemitic oppression. With the Treaty of Non-Aggression between Germany and the Soviet Union (the Molotov...
John Rosendahl
The Celebration of Life of John Rosendahl was held on Saturday, December 8, 2012 at 1:00 p.m. at UC Irvine's Rowland Hall, Room 101. The event showcased videos and pictures of Rosendahl's life including performances of physics demonstrations.  Family members, colleagues, and friends had the opportunity to share memories. An informal reception followed in Reines Hall with music by Jim and Mary Kelley. John Rosendahl, Instructional Programs Director in the Department of Physics and Astronomy, died in the early morning hours on Saturday, September 1, 2012.  Rosendahl joined UC Irvine’s Department of Physics and Astronomy in 1987. He had a passion for teaching and created memorable lecture-demonstrations that were seen by more than 50,000 UCI students, as well as taking physics assemblies to younger students at various school districts. He received the Award for Outstanding Contributions to Undergraduate Education in 1995. That same year, he developed and taught the Seminar in Teaching Physics, which is designed to help graduate students become more successful teachers and learn the communication skills needed for professional development.  This is now a required course for all first-year teaching assistants. A Lasting Legacy An annual event on the UCI campus, John Rosendahl’s Adventures in Physics, will provide K-12 students and the general public opportunities to increase their awareness of physics with exciting demonstrations and engaging hands-on activities from the Physics...
Douglas L. Mills
With the death of Douglas Leon Mills in Southern California on March 29, 2012, the world of condensed matter physics and the University of California, Irvine, lost a major figure and a dear colleague.  He died after a long battle with leukemia. Doug was born in Berkeley, California on April 2, 1940.  He was the first member of his family to go to college.  He received the B.S. degree in Engineering Physics in 1961 and the Ph.D. degree in Physics in 1965, both from the University of California, Berkeley.  His Ph.D. thesis advisor was Charles Kittel, and the subject of his thesis was the properties of ultrasonic waves in insulating crystals. After receiving the Ph.D. degree Doug spent a year as an NSF Postdoctoral Fellow at the Universite Paris-Sud, in Orsay, France, in the group of Jacques Friedel.  It was there that he carried out his first investigations into magnetic properties of solids, a subject that occupied him throughout his entire professional career. On his return to the U.S. from France in 1966, Doug joined the Department of Physics at the University of California, Irvine as an assistant professor and as one of its earliest faculty members.  It was to be his academic home for the rest of his life.  He became associate professor in 1969, and professor in 1973. In his research, Doug made seminal contributions to several areas of condensed matter physics, namely to phonon physics, inelastic light scattering, low energy electron diffraction, infrared absorption,...