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F. Sherwood Rowland Leaves Legacy of Dedication That Goes Beyond Nobel Prize-winning Research

March 22, 2012
Nobel Laureate and CCST Senior Fellow F. Sherwood Roland passed away on March 10 at age 84 in Corona del Mar. Image courtesy of UCI.

CCST Senior Fellow F. Sherwood Rowland, who passed away on March 10 at age 84, was known for many significant accomplishments. A founding professor of the Chemistry Department at UC Irvine, he was a widely acclaimed scientist who won a Nobel Prize for demonstrating that chlorofluorocarbons damage and could destroy the Earth's ozone layer. But Rowland was also known for his sense of social responsibility and a passionate dedication to education.

"He was not only a great scientist, but a superb teacher," said Francisco Ayala, Donald Bren Professor of Biological Sciences and professor of Philosophy at UC Irvine. "He had an enormous standard of morality, but was also very level-headed and persuasive. This made him an effective advocate for causes he believed in, including math and science education."

Among his many other activities, Rowland was a founding board member for the COSMOS program, a merit-based summer school run by the University of California at four UC campuses. Each summer, the four-week residential program serves over six hundred high-school aged students, who are provided with the opportunity to work with renowned faculty, researchers, and scientists in state-of-the-art facilities while exploring advanced STEM topics far beyond the courses usually offered in California high schools.

"Dr. Rowland was fully committed to COSMOS," said Ayala. "The notion that underlies the program was important to him, because the future of the scientific enterprise depends on well-prepared intellects. He was dedicated to furthering science and math education opportunities for youths."

"He helped shape this outstanding summer educational enrichment program, which was created for California high school students who excel in math and science," said Gayle Wilson, chairman emeritus of COSMOS and former first lady of California. "Dr. Rowland was an active Board member, whose knowledge, wisdom, and life experience added greatly to the discussion. He was a soft-spoken man with a spine of steel - everyone listened when he spoke. Dr. Rowland will be missed by us all."

"Dr. Rowland was a great scientist who deeply understood the needs to inspire our children," added CCST Executive Director, and COSMOS Board member, Susan Hackwood.

"He was a deciding factor in my decision to come to UCI," said Ayala. "He was a remarkable man on many levels."


CCST Spotlight is a weekly newsletter focusing on CCST activities and highlighting innovative science and technology research, applications, and policy issues in California. The Spotlight editor is Danny DeCillis. We welcome information and feedback from our readers about science and technology at work in the private, public, and education sectors. To send us questions or comments, contact us at ccst@ccst.us, or (951) 682-8701.