Remembering Professor emeritus Howard Reiss

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We are sad to report that Professor emeritus Howard Reiss passed away on December 21, 2015 at the age of 93.

Elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 1977, Prof. Reiss was an accomplished physical chemist and theorist who worked in a variety of fields, including solid state, statistical mechanics, nucleation and colloid phenomena, polymers, electrochemistry, thermodynamics and device physics.

He joined the UCLA Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry in 1968 as a Full Professor after leaving his position at North American Aviation where he was the founding Director of the Company’s Science Center, and a Corporate Vice President of the parent company. He became a Professor emeritus in 1991.

Prof. Reiss touched many people during his career at UCLA. “He was a very distinguished scientist” and “intellectually curious”, said Prof. Charles Knobler. Prof. James Gimzewski said of Prof. Reiss, “To me he was the best scientist in the chemistry dept. I mourn his loss. He was a teacher to me.“

Former student Dr. Katherine Kantardjieff (M.S. ’84, Ph.D. ’88, physical chemistry), founding Dean of the College of Science and Mathematics at Cal State San Marcos, posted her admiration of Prof. Reiss on the department’s Facebook site, “Dr. Reiss had incredibly high standards for his students, and at the core, he cared very deeply that we understood and had an appreciation for quantum mechanics.”

Reiss%2CHoward%20PictureA watercolor of the NAA Science Center building which was in Prof. Reiss’ office.

UCLA NewsroomIn memoriam: Professor emeritus Howard Reiss.

From Prof. Reiss’ obituary:

Dedicated husband, father, educator, and colleague, Professor Howard Reiss, passed away from injuries he sustained in a motor vehicle accident on December 21, 2015.  Born in New York City, he was 93 years old.  Professor Reiss received his B.A. (1943) and Ph.D (1949) degrees from New York University and Columbia University, respectively. His studies were interrupted by the second world war during which he served as a member of the U.S. Army Special Engineer Detachment associated with the Manhattan Project. He was trained in experimental physical chemistry, but eventually learned how to perform theoretical as well as experimental research. Half of his career was spent in industry (Bell Laboratories, 1951-1960, and North American Aviation [then Rockwell International], 1960-1968).

He and his beloved wife, Phyllis have been residents of Los Angeles for the past 55 years; recently moving to the Santa Cruz area to be near their children.

He worked in a variety of fields including solid state, statistical mechanics, nucleation and colloid phenomena, polymers, electrochemistry, thermodynamics, and device physics.

Professor Reiss was recognized for his many achievements in his life time including the McCoy award of the UCLA Chemistry Department, the American Chemical Society (ACS) Tolman Medal (1973), ACS Kendall Award in colloid and surface Chemistry (1980), ACS Hildebrand Award in the physical chemistry of liquids (1991), and the David Sinclair Award of the American Association for Aerosol Research (1997). He was a member of the National Academy of Sciences (1977) and a fellow of both the American Physical Society and the American Association for the Advancement of Sciences. He was also a Guggenheim Fellow (1979). In 1994, he held the Van Arkel Honorary Chair in Chemistry at Leiden University in the Netherlands.

In 1999, a “Career Development Chair” endowed by the John P. McTague Family was established in his name within the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at UCLA. In August of 2000 a symposium in his honor was held at the 15th International Conference on Nucleation and Atmospheric Aerosols held in Rolla, Missouri, and in May of 2002 another symposium was held at the 87 Statstical Mechanics Conference at Rutgers University. In August of 2001 a Festschrift in his honor was published by the Journal of Physical Chemistry. Professor Reiss was founding editor of both the series “Progress in Solid State Chemistry” and the “Journal of Statistical Physics”. He authored the monograph “Methods of Thermodynamics” republished by Dover publications.

He is survived by his wife, Phyllis Reiss of Aptos, California; his daughter, Gloria Reiss of Soquel, California, his son, Steve Reiss of Berkeley; his loving grandchildren, Mitchell Reiss, Ian Reiss, and Julia Reiss along with many loving extended family members, friends, and colleagues.

Graveside services were held on Sunday, December 27, 2015 in Santa Cruz, California.

Any kind acts of charity can be made to The UCLA Foundation (check memo or notation “Reiss Fund”). Addressed to Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, 607 Charles E. Young Drive East, Los Angeles, CA, 90095-1569.