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Obituary of Raul A. Stern

13 May 2010

Professor Emeritus Raul A. Stern of physics at CU-Boulder, a veteran of Israel's War of Independence and an expert in plasma physics, died on June 22, 2008, following a long illness. He was 79.

He was born on Dec. 26, 1928, in Bucharest, Romania. He married Ruth Nathan on Feb. 3, 1953, in New York City.

Dr. Stern received a B.S. degree in 1952 and an M.S. degree in 1953 from the University of Wisconson-Madison. He earned his Ph.D. in 1959 from the University of California, Berkeley, and completed postdoctoral studies in aeronautical sciences there in 1960.

He was an instructor and research associate at UC Berkeley from 1955 to 1960, and a member of the technical staff at Bell Telephone Laboratories from 1960 to 1981. In that position, he worked in the scattering and low-energy physics research department at Bell's research laboratory in Murray Hill, N.J.

Dr. Stern came to CU-Boulder in 1978. In addition to serving as a physics professor, he was rostered in the department of astrophysical, planetary and atmospheric physics from 1978 to 1996.

While at CU, he received several concurrent appointments as a visiting professor or visiting research physicist, including posts at New York University; University of California, Los Angeles; the Center for Research in Plasma Physics at the École Polytechnique Fédérale in Lausanne, Switzerland; University of California, Irvine; Université de Provence in Aix-Marseille, France; École Polytechnique in Palaiseau, France; and California Institute of Technology. He was a Sherman Fairchild Fellow at CIT in 1986. He was a fellow of the Center for Integrated Plasma Studies at CU-Boulder and a member of the Institute of Plasma and Fusion Research at UCLA. Dr. Stern also served on Boulder Faculty Assembly and several of its committees.

According to one of his UCB colleagues, Scott Robertson of physics, Dr. Stern was a leading expert in the use of tunable dye lasers for making measurements on plasmas by induced ion fluorescence. When he served as a visiting scientist at other labs, he helped to install laser scattering tools and to start vigorous research programs. He enjoyed mentoring young scientists and helped launch several into successful careers, Robertson said, and many of those researchers gathered to honor him at a miniconference at an October 2003 meeting of the Division of Plasma Physics of the American Physical Society.

In addition to his wife, survivors include two daughters, Susanna Stern of Brookline, Mass., and Gabriella Stern Levy of Singapore; a brother, S. Alexander Stern; two nephews and four grandchildren.

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