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July 12, 2011, Volume 58, No. 01

Dr. Fischer, Materials Science and Engineering


John E. Fischer, professor emeritus of materials science and engineering in the School of Engineering and Applied Science, died at age 72 on June 28, at his home in Swarthmore after a decades long battle with complications arising from polycystic kidney disease.

Dr. Fischer was recognized as a world leader in the science and engineering of carbon-based materials and was cited as one of the world’s top 20 scientists in the field of nanotechnology. His seminal studies of the physics and chemistry of carbon-based materials provided the basis for many advances in battery and energy storage technologies. Throughout his career, Dr. Fischer authored more than 400 papers, received numerous awards that included Fellowship of the American Physical Society, presented more than 200 invited lectures at national and international meetings, and mentored dozens of young undergraduate, graduate and post-doctoral scholars.

Dr. Fischer graduated from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York, with a PhD in nuclear science and engineering. He took a postdoctoral year (1966-67) in Paris at l’École Normale Supérieure (learning to speak fluent French) and, after doing research for a number of years at Michelson Laboratory in China Lake, California, joined the faculty at Penn in 1973, first in electrical engineering and later (1984) in materials science and engineering. He became emeritus in 2007.

Dr. Fischer is survived by his wife, Linda; two sons, John, Jr., and Jason; a daughter, Ruth, two grandsons, Quinlan and Garrick Schultz; his sister, June Roos; and a niece and a nephew. 

Contributions in Dr. Fischer’s memory may be made to the Polycystic Kidney Disease Foundation at: www.pkdcure.org/jackfischer


Mr. Rosenthal, Penn Design


Gilbert A. Rosenthal, former lecturer in the department of city and regional planning in the School of Design from 2004 through 2010, passed away June 27 from cancer; he was 58. Penn courses Mr. Rosenthal taught included, “Reclaiming the Delaware River Waterfront” in 2005 and “Urban Housing Policy” in 2009.

He had been with the planning and design firm, Wallace, Roberts & Todd from 1986 until his death.

Mr. Rosenthal earned a bachelor’s degree from Cornell University and his master’s degree from Harvard University, both in architecture.

His local projects included the Quadrangle and the redevelopment of the Richard Allen Homes in North Philadelphia, for which he received a Progressive Architecture Award.

Mr. Rosenthal is survived by his wife, Rev. Judith Sullivan; and daughters, Emily and Grace; and a sister.




Dr. Rubin, Obstetrics and Gynecology


Dr. Alan Rubin, retired clinical associate professor in the department of obstetrics and gynecology in the School of Medicine, passed away May 16; he was 87. Raised in Philadelphia, Dr. Rubin earned his undergraduate and medical degrees from Penn in 1945 and 1947, respectively. Following his residency at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, Dr. Rubin became a research associate in the department of obstetrics and gynecology where he conducted research on cancer in women and was one of the first to recognize a hereditary link in some women with breast cancer. He was appointed a clinical associate professor in 1979. Before retiring in 1989, Dr. Rubin had also served as chief of gynecology at the former Graduate Hospital and was chairman of the obstetrics and gynecology department at Albert Einstein Medical Center.

Dr. Rubin had been a fellow of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the American College of Surgeons and many other professional organizations.

An active alumnus, Dr. Rubin was a past president of Penn’s Medical Alumni Society and served on its executive committee for almost five decades. In addition, Dr. Rubin was a former chairman of the Medical Advisory Committee of Planned Parenthood of Philadelphia, the Federation Allied Jewish Appeal at HUP and the Citizens Council on City Planning in Philadelphia. He also served in many elected and appointed offices of the Philadelphia County Medical Society.

Dr. Rubin is survived by his sons, Blake, Alan and Stephen C. Rubin, chief of gynecological oncology at Penn Medicine; a brother; seven grandchildren; and a great-grandson.

Memorial donations may be made to the Parkinson’s Disease and Movement Disorders Center at Pennsylvania Hospital, 330 S. Ninth St., Philadelphia, PA 19107.


Dr. Schmidt, Orthopaedic Surgery


Dr. Erwin R. “Rudy” Schmidt, Jr., associate professor emeritus of orthopaedic surgery in the School of Medicine, passed away June 12 at age 86.

Raised in Madison, Wisconsin, Dr. Schmidt earned his bachelor’s degree from Yale University and his medical degree from the University of Wisconsin. Prior to that he served in the Army during World War II, where he earned a bronze star.

In 1953, Dr. Schmidt joined the staff at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania after completing his residency there. He was appointed to the faculty in the department of orthopaedic surgery as an assistant professor in 1964 and was promoted to associate professor in 1970. He obtained emeritus status in 2000.

From the late 1950s to the mid-1970s, Dr. Schmidt was the physician for Penn’s football team. He worked at the student health center from 1982 to 1998. He had also been an orthopaedic consultant to the student health center at Swarthmore College.

Dr. Schmidt is survived by his wife, Mary; son, Erwin III; daughters, Debbie Creeden and Sue Webber; a brother; two sisters; seven grandchildren; and six great-grandchildren.

Donations may be made to Wissahickon Hospice, 150 Monument Road, Bala Cynwyd, PA 19004 or Parkinson Council, 111 Presidential Blvd., suite 250, Bala Cynwyd, PA 19004.


Dr. Smith, HR


Dr. David M. Smith, former director of professional development in Human Resources, passed away June 16 from cancer; he was 60.

Dr. Smith briefly taught at Penn’s Graduate School of Education in the early eighties before going to the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia as a senior trainer and media coordinator. He joined Penn’s Human Resources department in 1990, first serving as manager of employment and then director of human resources in 1994. At Penn, Dr. Smith was responsible for co-founding the Corporate Learning Program at GSE. He also co-founded the Center for Professional Development, which he directed and taught multi-day programs from 1998-2000. He then left Penn and briefly worked for Albert Einstein Healthcare Network before becoming a consultant in 2002 and founding David Smith Associates. At the time of his death, he was the associate senior consultant for Teleos Leadership Institute and a consultant at Critical Business Solutions.

Born in Worcester, Massachusetts, Dr. Smith earned his bachelor’s degree in psychology from Harvard University in 1973, his master’s degree in educational media from Temple University in 1978 and his doctorate in education from Penn in 2000.

Dr. Smith is survived by his wife, Wanda Whitted-Smith; children, Sage, C’99, Chloe and Luke; grandson, Jesse Hobbs; parents, Matthew and Adele Smith; brothers, Daniel and Stephen Smith; and sisters, Melinda Hannan, Susan Smith-Scott and Judith Maruca.

Memorial contributions may be made to Team David, Box 582, Charlton, MA 01507 or online at www.teamdavecourage.bbnow.org


To Report A Death

Almanac appreciates being informed of the deaths of current and former faculty and staff members, students, and other members of the University community.

However, notices of alumni deaths should be directed to the Alumni Records Office at Room 545, Franklin Building, (215) 898-8136 or e-mail record@ben.dev.upenn.edu.

Almanac - July 12, 2011, Volume 58, No. 01