Robert Haddon: A Legacy of Collaboration

A year after his death, people remembered the distinguished professor of chemical and environmental engineering, with kind words and great stories (photo slideshow below)

The Robert C. Haddon Memorial Symposium was held on April 7, 2017 at the Winston Chung Hall at UC Riverside.carlos puma

The late Robert Haddon knew that success came with collaboration.

His quiet, yet assertive demeanor, and his skills that brought people together, were highlighted in the many comments of his former colleagues who gathered at the Robert C. Haddon Memorial Symposium on April 7 at Winston Chung Hall.

Speakers remembered the distinguished professor of chemical and environmental engineering with kind words and great stories. In his career, he worked with engineers, biologists and chemists to accomplish seminal research. When Haddon arrived at UCR in 2000, the Bourns College of Engineering (BCOE) was still a relatively small program, said former UCR Chancellor Raymond L. Orbach, who was in attendance.

Orbach says he knew that investing in cutting-edge research would enhance the campus’ reputation. To achieve that, he needed Haddon, who had conducted pioneering research at the University of Kentucky, at Bell Labs, and elsewhere.

At UCR, Haddon founded the Center for Nanoscale Science and Engineering (CNSE), which crossed disciplines between BCOE, CNAS, and biomedical sciences. He also obtained enough funding to create two nanofabrication cleanroom facilities, and then went on to build a partnership with UCSB and UCLA to create the Center for Nanoscience Innovation for Defense (CNID).

Interim Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor Cindy Larive with former UCR Chancellor Raymond L. Orbach, pose for a photo during the Robert C. Haddon Memorial Symposium on April 7, 2017. sandra baltazar martínez

“He had that wonderful entrepreneurial spirit that fit perfectly with this campus,” Orbach said. “He was a builder in the best sense of the word.”

Haddon was best known for his research on the prediction and discovery of superconductivity in alkali-metal-doped carbon-60, and for his work to create the first electronically stabilized phenalenyl radical.

The April 7 symposium  brought together colleagues from as far away as Canada, Florida, and Texas.

Speaker after speaker cited Haddon’s legacy and the history he created. Friends and colleagues wrote memories that played on large screens during the symposium. A photo collage on the screens also narrated Haddon’s life, who was born in Longford, Tasmania. The collage featured him with friends, students, and his wife, Elena Haddon.

“I viewed Robert Haddon as a valued mentor, a highly accomplished colleague, and a role model to emulate,” said Stanislaus S. Wong, a former assistant professor at UCR and currently a professor at Stony Brook University. “He provided me with opportunities and a lot of encouragement to advance scientifically and professionally, for which I will be forever grateful.”

His success was known across the country and around the world, his colleagues said.  But what some might not have known was that Haddon was a “thoughtful colleague, considerate,” said Cindy Larive, interim provost and executive vice chancellor.

In a short span of time, Haddon managed to obtain sufficient funding to purchase more than $100 million in equipment to support research, an “unparalleled” accomplishment, Larive said. Haddon understood that nanotechnology was a highly interdisciplinary research, and always made sure he highlighted that the work being done included researchers from disciplines such as engineering, physics, biology, computer science, and medicine.

“He was often quiet, but when he spoke, people listened. He was also a great mentor,” Larive said.

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