Notices sorted by graduation date.
Elmer L. Gaden Jr. of Charlottesville died March 10, 2012. He was a retired chemical engineering professor. Known as "the father of biochemical engineering," Mr. Gaden was the Wills Johnson Professor of Chemical Engineering at the University until his retirement in 1994. Foremost among his many awards was the 2009 Fritz J. and Dolores H. Russ Prize, awarded by the National Academy of Engineering and Ohio University, for Mr. Gaden's pioneering research, which enabled the large-scale manufacture of antibiotics such as penicillin. Earlier in his career, Mr. Gaden served on Columbia University's faculty from 1949 until 1974, chairing the chemical engineering department for 12 years. He also founded the journal Biotechnology and Bioengineering, which he edited until 1983. After leaving Columbia, he became dean of the College of Engineering, Mathematics and Business Administration at University of Vermont. Mr. Gaden's other notable honors included the Mac Wade Award from the students of the School of Engineering and Applied Science and Columbia's Great Teacher Award. In 2007, Columbia established the Gaden Lecture, which annually brings a distinguished lecturer to the university. Also a historian, Mr. Gaden taught military history at Columbia and led informal day tours of Virginia's Civil War battlefields for students, colleagues and friends. In retirement, Mr. Gaden volunteered to teach adults how to read.
Robert H. Owens of Lynchburg, Va., died Feb. 28, 2012. He was the founder and the first chairman of the department of computer science in the University's School of Engineering and Applied Science. Mr. Owens joined the engineering faculty in 1964 to lead the division of applied mathematics. Two years later, he persuaded the dean, Lawrence Quarles, to promote the division to a full department and to add computer science. It was the only academic computer science department in the Commonwealth at the time and offered only graduate degrees. The two subjects became separate departments in 1984, and Mr. Owens joined the applied math faculty. He retired from U.Va. in 1989. Earlier in his life, Mr. Owens served in the U.S. Navy. Before joining the U.Va. faculty, he was associate professor of mathematics and director of the Computer Center at the University of New Hampshire and acting head of the mathematical science section at the National Science Foundation. Survivors include two sons, Robert H. Owens Jr. (Educ '74) and David J. Owens (Engr '79).
Grover C. Pitts of Charlottesville died April 20, 2012. He served in the U.S. Navy and served as a physiologist at the Naval Medical Research Institute in Bethesda, Md., where he did research on the physiological effects of breathing under the altered conditions experienced by naval personnel in submarines, aircraft carriers and other naval craft. Mr. Pitts later taught physiology to all first-year students in the Medical School at the University for 35 years. He published approximately 90 research papers and articles and presented his results at scientific meetings in Europe, Asia and North America. Among various other areas of research pursued while at the University of Virginia, he collaborated with Soviet scientists in a study of the physiological effects of weightlessness. For this work, carried out on the Soviet space mission Kosmos 1149 in 1979, he received a certificate of merit from the Institute of Biomedical Problems of Moscow and the Cosmos Achievement Award of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. He also participated as an investigator in the University of Wisconsin expedition to South America in 1959, where he did studies in comparative physiology on a variety of mammals. Mr. Pitts was active in the international Committee on Gravitational Physiology and the panel on gravitational physiology of the Commission on Space Research. Locally he participated in the Boy Scouts of America, was a member of the Greencroft Club, the Colonnade Club, Sigma Phi Epsilon social fraternity, Phi Beta Kappa and the American Physiological Society, among others. In his later years, he participated as an officer in the Retired Faculty Association of the University of Virginia and as an instructor in the Jefferson Institute for Lifelong Learning.