Memorial for Gertude Neumark Rothschild

Gertrude Neumark Rothschild, Howe Professor Emerita of Materials Science and Engineering, passed away on November 11, 2010, after a long illness. She was 83.

A memorial service was held for her on Wednesday, December 15, 2010 at 5:00 PM, at St. Paul's Chapel.

Professor Neumark started teaching at Columbia University in 1982 and in 1999 became the first woman to hold a named chair in Columbia University’s Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science.

Gertrude Neumark graduated summa cum laude from Barnard College in 1948, received a Master of Science degree in chemistry from Radcliffe in 1949, and, in 1951, received a Ph.D. in chemistry from Columbia’s Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. Prior to joining the Columbia faculty, Dr. Neumark worked in industry at Sylvania Research Laboratories (1952-1960) and at Philips Laboratories from 1960-1985. She was elected a Fellow of the American Physical Society in 1982. From 1982-1985 Dr. Neumark was also an Adjunct Professor at Columbia. She started teaching and conducting research here full-time from 1985. She was appointed Howe Professor of Materials Science and Engineering in July 1999. In 2005, the Henry and Gertrude Rothschild Professorship was established at Columbia University in recognition of her contributions to science.

Professor Neumark was cited as one of 83 women whose work appears on the archival website maintained by UCLA entitled, “Contributions of 20th Century Women to Physics.” She also was listed in Who’s Who in America, Who’s Who in Science and Engineering, and American Men and Women of Science. She is the author of more than 140 publications and a contributor to McGraw-Hill Yearbook of Science and Technology. She served as a panelist for the National Research Council.

Dr. Neumark received an honorary degree from Columbia University in May 2008 and also was selected as a recipient of Barnard’s Distinguished Alumna Award for 2008 for her outstanding achievements in materials science and engineering. In 2008, Philips Electronics created a Professorship in Columbia’s Department of Applied Physics and Applied Mathematics in The Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science in honor of Professor Neumark Rothschild’s pioneering role as a woman engineer.

It was during her research work at Columbia Engineering that Dr. Neumark conceived the doping process that has been the basis for devices improving the quality of consumer products ranging from flat screen TVs to mobile phone screens. Commercial uses for blue and shorter-wavelength lasers range from increasing the sharpness of laser printers to increasing the information storage capacity of DVDs. In addition to these lasers, her patented processes led to blue and ultraviolet LEDs (light-emitting diodes), which are now used for computers, traffic lights, instrument panels, as the background color for mobile-phone screens, in multicolor displays, flat screens and in numerous other lighting applications.

She is survived by her husband, Henry Rothschild, a former commodities trader at Philipp Brothers, now retired.

The New York Times Obituary

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