An internationally renowned theoretical particle physicist who was UCLA’s vice chancellor for research from 2000 to 2010 has died at age 78 following a hip fracture, the university announced Tuesday.
Roberto Peccei — who had Parkinson’s disease — also served as dean of the division of physical sciences in the UCLA College from 1993 to 2001, and taught popular courses on the physics of energy to undergraduate and graduate students.
Peccei was a “a giant of theoretical particle physics” who made “monumental achievements and contributions to both science and the university, and who provided sage experience and wisdom in physics, in leadership and in life,” said David Saltzberg, chair of UCLA’s Department of Physics and Astronomy.
Peccei was lauded by colleague Alexander Kusenko, a UCLA professor of physics and astronomy, for overseeing a significant expansion of UCLA research efforts and the creation of major research institutes on campus.
“Roberto Peccei was a brilliant scientist, a natural leader, a thoughtful colleague and a special friend,” Kusenko said. “The memory of Roberto Peccei will continue to inspire his colleagues, postdocs and students for many years.”
Peccei — who was born in Torino, Italy, and raised in Buenos Aires, Argentina — received numerous awards and prizes, including the J.J. Sakurai Prize for Theoretical Particle Physics awarded by the American Physical Society.
He was elected as a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and was a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He served on many national and international committees on sciences and numerous editorial and advisory boards in the United States and Europe.
Peccei joined UCLA’s physics faculty in 1989, conducting research in theoretical physics and serving in many senior administrative positions, according to the university.
He had previously been on the physics facility of Stanford University, a staff member of the Max Planck Institute for Physics and Astrophysics in Munich, Germany, and the head of theory group at one of the largest and most highly respected European laboratories, DESY, in Hamburg.
Peccei, who died last week, is survived by his wife, Jocelyn, and their two children, Alessandra and Aurelio.
In lieu of flowers, the family asked that donations be made in his honor to the UCLA Department of Physics and Astronomy and to Parkinson’s disease research at UCLA.
>> Want to read more stories like this? Get our Free Daily Newsletters Here!Follow us: