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February 19, 2014

In Memoriam

John Huizenga, leader in field of nuclear science

By Peter Inglinski | peter.iglinski@rochester.edu

John HuizengaJohn Huizenga, the Tracy H. Harris Professor Emeritus of Chemistry and Physics and an internationally recognized leader in the field of nuclear science, died Jan. 25 in La Jolla, Calif. He was 92.

The U.S. Department of Energy appointed Huizenga cochair of its Advisory Board Cold Fusion Panel in 1989 to investigate the claims of electrochemists Stanley Pons and Martin Fleischmann that they had produced excess heat in a laboratory experiment that could only be attributed to nuclear processes. Huizenga’s panel concluded that there was no convincing evidence to support the claims of achieving cold fusion.

Robert Boeckman Jr., the Marshall D. Gates, Jr. Professor of Chemistry and past chair of the University’s Department of Chemistry, once called Huizenga “an ardent and vocal champion of quality science and the integrity of the scientific enterprise.”

Huizenga’s interest in nuclear science was fueled by his work on the Manhattan Project in Oak Ridge, Tenn., shortly after earning his undergraduate degree in mathematics and chemistry at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Mich. He earned his PhD in physical chemistry at the University of Illinois in 1949 and immediately afterward held joint appointments at Chicago and Argonne National Laboratory, where he studied nuclear reaction processes with an emphasis on the production and study of transuranium nuclei.

Huizenga came to Rochester in 1967 as a professor of chemistry and physics, serving five years as chair of the Department of Chemistry starting in 1983. Using the University’s new Emperor Tandem Van de Graaff Accelerator, he began a systematic study of the excited states of actinide (radioactive metal) nuclei by high resolution reaction spectroscopy.

Huizenga received numerous fellowships and awards during his career, including a Fulbright fellowship (1954–55) and two Guggenheim fellowships (1964–65 and 1973–74). Huizenga was a member of the National Academy of Sciences and the American Chemical Society and a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Physical Society, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

“Throughout his 50-year scientific career, John Huizenga conducted research at the forefront of nuclear physics and contributed a host of exceptional insights to nuclear science and technology, which stimulated vigorous research then and are still valid today,” says Wolf-Udo Schröder, professor of chemistry and physics at Rochester who considered Huizenga to be a mentor. “John took particular pride in having mentored numerous students and young investigators now teaching at great universities around the world. His former students and associates, in turn, have expressed their appreciation with several scientific symposia held in John’s honor.”

 


 

Robert Marquis, devoted teacher and researcher

By Emily Boynton | emily_boynton@urmc.rochester.edu

Robert MarquisRobert Marquis, past chair of the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at the School of Medicine and Dentistry and a devoted teacher to many students who trained at the medical school and at the University’s School of Arts & Sciences, died in January at the age of 80. He began his career at the University in 1963 as a senior instructor in microbiology and was continuously funded by the National Institutes of Health until his retirement as a professor in 2012.

During his early years at the medical school, Marquis studied energy transduction—how cells and bacteria develop energy from food. From the 1970s until the end of his career he focused on oral streptococci, a type of bacteria found in the mouth that are major contributors to tooth decay. He had a secondary appointment in the Center for Oral Biology, and his work on the effects of fluoride on cavity-producing bacteria earned him international recognition and the 2006 Distinguished Scientist Award for Research in Dental Caries from the International Association for Dental Research.

As passionate as Marquis was about his research, he was equally, if not more passionate about the colleagues, trainees, and students he worked with every day.

“Bob was a remarkable colleague, mentor, and friend,” says Lawrence Tabak, principal deputy director at the National Institutes of Health and past director of the Center for Oral Biology at Rochester, where he worked closely with Marquis. “He always offered sage advice but only when asked. He never engaged in self ‘promotion’, but he promoted the accomplishments of his many trainees and junior colleagues with great passion. He never drew attention to himself but invested his efforts on doing what was right, in the right way.”

Jacqueline Abranches, an assistant professor in the Center for Oral Biology, completed her first round of postdoctoral research with Marquis.

“I enjoyed every minute I worked for him. He had so much knowledge and so much to share,” says Abranches. “He loved to spend time talking to us not only about science but also about life. He taught me that you can play important roles in science and life, and that you can be successful and still be kind, friendly, and humble.”

His influence extended to undergraduate students on the River Campus as well. He was a founding director of the Undergraduate Program in Biology and Medicine, which combines the School of Arts & Sciences and the School of Medicine and Dentistry to provide courses for undergraduate students with lectures, laboratory work, specialty seminars, and research experiences.

Originally from Ontario, Canada, Marquis earned his MS and PhD degrees from the University of Michigan. He spent two years as a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland, where he studied under Peter Mitchell, a British biochemist who was awarded the 1978 Nobel Prize for Chemistry. In the early 1970s he was a U.S. Public Health Service special research fellow at Scripps Institution of Oceonography, where he studied the effect of pressure on microorganisms with marine microbiologist Claude ZoBell.

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