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A Founding Prof. Dies: Tribute by a Faculty Mentee

It is with a heavy heart that I report the passing of one of York College's founding faculty, Dr. Martin Spergel, on Sep 23.

Marty got his PhD in physics from the Univ. of Rochester in 1963 and after a number of positions, including some time at Brookhaven National Labs, he joined York College as a Charter faculty member in 1967. Marty taught at York for 38 years and was chair of the Dept. of Natural Sciences for 19 of those. Among his many accomplishments, Marty was instrumental in bringing the FDA Food Testing Laboratory to campus. He was dedicated to York's mission and its students, mentoring numerous students and faculty. Marty and his close friend Prof. Frank Pomilla obtained one of the country's first NSF awards to enhance the engagement of underrepresented students in physics (Project Beacon in 1968!). His main area of expertise was in studying the interaction of cosmic rays - energetic interstellar particles moving at near light speed - with solar system bodies such as the lunar surface. He was the lead on a NASA grant that in part hired me in 2001, and he was my mentor.

Marty was a beloved husband, father, and grandfather. He leaves behind his wife Rochelle, his children David, Jonathan, and Lauren, and 7 grandchildren Julian, Sarah, Joshua, Zachary, Benjamin, Nathan, and Eli. Marty loved to travel and visited dozens of countries with many memorable family adventures. He was also a very dedicated student and practitioner of his Jewish faith, and an ardent Yankees fan. I always remember him as well for his hearty laugh and sense of humor.

Marty's son David Spergel is himself an accomplished astrophysicist, now President of the Simons Foundation, and a dear friend to York College. He established the Martin Spergel Lecture Series in his father's honor some years ago, which welcomes world leaders from the frontiers of the natural sciences to our campus every spring to share their work and meet with our students and faculty. Marty was honored by this gift and really enjoyed these events. We hope everyone can join us at the Spring 2022 Martin Spergel Lecture when it is announced, at which [time] we will include a memorial for Marty. The family also encourages donations to the Lewy Body Dementia Association at www.lbda.org in Marty's memory.
 -tim


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Prof. Tim Paglione, Ph.D., Research Assoc./AMNH
Chair, Dept. of Earth & Physical Sciences
CUNY York College
94-20 Guy R. Brewer Blvd.
Jamaica, NY 11451
718-262-2082


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