HEMI Mourns the Death of Prof. Bob Cammarata

Jan 15, 2016 | No Comments | By Michelle Pagano

A picture of Robert Cammarata

Robert Cammarata

Robert Charles Cammarata II, a professor of materials science and engineering and a member of the Hopkins Extreme Materials Institute, and a visionary leader in the Johns Hopkins University community for 28 years, died Wednesday, Jan. 13 from cancer. He was 58.

An insightful scientist, talented teacher, and mentor to students and colleagues, “Bob” Cammarata joined the Whiting School of Engineering in 1987 after completing a doctorate in applied physics at Harvard University and a postdoctoral fellowship at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He quickly established a reputation as a visionary researcher and a talented educator and took on leadership within WSE and in the university at large.

On the academic front, Cammarata served as a member of the Homewood Academic Council from 2006 to 2011 and helped shape the Department of Materials Science and Engineering.

While serving as department chair from 2003 until 2008, he oversaw the development of the department’s nanotechnology and biomaterials concentrations. Cammarata was recognized with the McDonald Award for Excellence in Mentoring and Advising in 2010 for his ability to engage students’ minds, elevate their spirits, and encourage their best efforts.

Cammarata received significant recognition for his studies on the fundamental thermodynamics and mechanics of thin films, the foundational materials science that underlies technologies such as computer chips and optical coatings. He was elected as a Fellow of the Materials Research Society in 2011 and the American Physical Society in 2012 for pioneering contributions to the understanding of thermodynamics and mechanics of surfaces, thin films, and nanomaterials, as well as to the synthesis, processing, and mechanical behavior of nanocomposites.

In recent years, his focus shifted to carbon nanotubes and developing cost effective and more efficient ways of separating semiconducting nanotubes from metallic nanotubes. Cammarata and former student, Stephen Farias ’ 14, founded NanoDirect LLC to commercialize a technology to separate different types of nanowires and nanoparticles.

Cammarata is remembered by colleagues as a kind, caring, and supportive friend and mentor. “Bob was many things—a dear friend, a mentor, a wonderful teacher and colleague, a deeply insightful scientist—and he will be sorely missed,” said Jonah Erlebacher, professor and chair of materials science and engineering.

Cammarata is survived by his wife, Sharka Prokes, his brother, Ronald Cammarata, and his sister-in-law, Norma Cammarata. An obituary appeared in today’s Baltimore Sun. Details about a memorial service to be held at Johns Hopkins will be shared when they become available.


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