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In Memoriam: Robert Bau

USC College's professor of chemistry was a top scholar and beloved mentor.

In Memoriam: Robert Bau

Robert Bau, an esteemed faculty member of USC College's chemistry department for nearly 40 years, passed away on Dec. 28, 2008. He was a distinguished researcher in the field of x-ray and neutron diffraction crystallography.

Bau, an inspiring and popular instructor as well as an outstanding scientist, received USC Associates Awards for both Excellence in Teaching (1974) and Creativity in Research (1979).

Additional recognition for his achievements included an Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Fellowship (1974-76), an NIH Research Career Development Award (1975-80), election as a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (1982), and  an Alexander van Humboldt Foundation U.S. Senior Scientist Award (1985). He was president of the American Crystallographic Association (2006).

"Professor Robert Bau was an outstanding scholar, gifted teacher and wonderful colleague. His untimely passing is a great loss for our department and the College," said Charles McKenna, professor of chemistry and department chair.

USC College alumnus Raymond Stevens, currently professor of chemistry and molecular biology at The Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, earned a Ph.D. in chemistry under Bau's guidance and considers him one of his most important influences, scientifically and professionally.

"Bob Bau was an incredible adviser and mentor. He had just the right touch of letting a student learn scientific independence. If we could take one lesson away from Bob, it would be the balance of mentoring strong independence and gentle guidance that is so difficult to achieve."

Bau is survived by his wife, Margaret Churchill; three children from his first marriage, daughter, Christina, sons, Alexander and Philip, of Los Angeles; and his mother, Maria Lourdes Bau in Hong Kong.

Professor Bau will be cremated and a funeral mass will be held on Jan. 17 at 11:30 a.m. in the Risen Christ Chapel at Holy Cross Cemetery, 5835 W. Slauson Ave., Culver City, CA 90230. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to "The Robert Bau Memorial Fund" at the Department of Chemistry, University of Southern California.

A special tribute for Dr. Bau is planned for March 19 during a previously scheduled symposium in his honor at USC's Seeley G. Mudd Auditorium.  More details will be forthcoming.

The Department of Chemistry created a webpage to celebrate and honor Bob’s life and pay tribute to his work. Anyone who knew Bob is welcome to send a message for posting, especially with photos, to The Department of Chemistry.