Status Report

Bertram “Bert” Donn (1919-2012)

By SpaceRef Editor
January 9, 2013
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Dr. Bertram “Bert” Donn, the first head of NASA Goddard’s astro- chemistry group, passed away on Friday December 28, 2012 at age 93. Bert, a New Yorker by birth, attended Harvard University, where he was taught by such legends as Fred Whipple, Cecilia Payne, and Bart Bok. A meeting with Harold Urey in the 1950s turned Bert’s attention to problems of low-temperature reactions and their connections to inter- stellar chemistry. Bert’s research at Goddard spanned theory, observation, and experiment, with connections to NASA missions such as Skylab, Apollo, and the International Ultraviolet Explorer. Almost all of his research concerned cometary and interstellar matter in some way. Bert also was an early NASA contributor to the astrobiological literature, and initiated several astrobiology-related research projects at Goddard. He was a pioneer in astrochemistry and NASA research. He did much to establish NASA’s strong scientific reputation among astronomers and planetary scientists around the world. Aside from his Goddard work, Bert was a well-known and honored advocate of non- violence and peaceful conflict resolution, and was instrumental in the racial integration of Greenbelt, where he and his family lived for 50 years. For more information please see:

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