Chemistry professor Robin Hochstrasser dies at 82

Hochstrasser was a member of the National Academy of Sciences

· March 5, 2013, 4:37 pm

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Courtesy of Ronald Ozio | DP

Donner Professor of Physical Sciences and chemistry professor Robin Hochstrasser died on Feb. 27 at the age of 82. He was a member of Penn’s faculty since 1963 and a member of the National Academy of Sciences since 1982.


Donner Professor of Physical Sciences and chemistry professor Robin Hochstrasser died on Feb. 27. He was 82.

Hochstrasser, who was a member of Penn’s faculty since 1963, had been the director of Penn’s Ultrafast Optical Processes Laboratory since 1979. He was also a member of the National Academy of Sciences since 1982.

“The Chemistry Department, the University and the chemistry community at large have lost a true giant. Throughout his distinguished career, Robin’s love of science never wavered,” Chemistry Department Chair Gary Molander said in an email. “He will be deeply missed.”

Hochstrasser’s research focused on molecular spectroscopy. He helped pioneer the use of lasers for biological research and used his developments in laser research to study human diseases such as AIDS and influenza, among other things.

“Because of the depth and breadth of his research, Hochstrasser was widely regarded as a world leader in molecular spectroscopy, who left his mark on science, not only by his own original research, but also by inspiring and creating many scientific opportunities for others,” William Eaton, chief of the Laboratory of Chemical Physics at the National Institutes of Health, said in an obituary he wrote for his former mentor.

“Robin was a great mentor to me and to many other graduate students,” California Institute of Technology professor and Nobel Laureate Ahmed Zewail said in an email. “The world has lost a first-rate spectroscopist and physical chemist whose work laid the foundation for some of today’s leading advances in ultrafast science.”

Hochstrasser is survived by his wife, Carol Hochstrasser, his daughter Jennie Hochstrasser and her husband David Kasregis, and his grandchild, Finnian Kasregis. A service is being planned at the University.

Campus News Editor Huizhong Wu contributed reporting.

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