In Memoriam: Professor James Schwarz

On Sept. 26, Syra­cuse Uni­ver­si­ty Pro­fes­sor James A. Schwarz died ear­li­er in the day at St. Joseph’s Hos­pi­tal in Syra­cuse fol­low­ing a long ill­ness. He was 60.

A native of New Jer­sey, Schwarz received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Stevens Insti­tute of Tech­nol­o­gy in Hobo­ken, N.J. He began his col­lege career study­ing math­e­mat­ics, but found his niche in chem­i­cal physics and applied chem­istry. As a doc­tor­al stu­dent at Stan­ford Uni­ver­si­ty, he par­tic­i­pat­ed in vit­a­min C research with Nobel Prize win­ner Linus Paul­ing and then spent a year at Cam­bridge Uni­ver­si­ty work­ing with renowned physi­cist and chemist Jack Lin­nett.

Schwarz spent three years in acad­e­mia as a vis­it­ing schol­ar, post­doc­tor­al fel­low and instruc­tor, and sev­en years work­ing in the oil indus­try for Chevron Research and Exxon Research and Engi­neer­ing. He returned to acad­e­mia in 1979 when he joined ECS’s Depart­ment of Chem­i­cal Engi­neer­ing and Mate­ri­als Sci­ence as an asso­ciate pro­fes­sor. He was pro­mot­ed to full pro­fes­sor in 1985.

Lawrence Tavlar­ides, pro­fes­sor of chem­i­cal engi­neer­ing, became the chair of the depart­ment in 1981 and was Schwarz’s col­league and friend ever since. He says that Schwarz was a pas­sion­ate schol­ar and researcher who was con­stant­ly pro­mot­ing research col­lab­o­ra­tion among fac­ul­ty and stu­dents. “His enthu­si­asm
was con­ta­gious,” Tavlar­ides says. “He was always engag­ing col­leagues and stu­dents, and had a way of help­ing fac­ul­ty go in new direc­tions.” He men­tored count­less num­bers of grad­u­ate stu­dents and post­doc­tor­al fel­lows, many of whom went on to dis­tin­guish them­selves in indus­try, aca­d­e­mics and the physics and chem­istry com­mu­ni­ties.

Schwarz was known on nation­al and inter­na­tion­al lev­els for his pio­neer­ing research on the adsorp­tive stor­age of hydro­gen on car­bon and cat­a­lyst prepa­ra­tion, and held 14 patents for his dis­cov­er­ies. Over the years, Schwarz received near­ly $5 mil­lion in research grants and con­tracts, includ­ing a grant from Brookhaven Labs to research the stor­age of hydro­gen for poten­tial fuel cell appli­ca­tions. In 1988, he received a U.S. patent for Modification/Metal Assist­ed Car­bon Cold Stor­age of Hydro­gen (MACS). In 1990, he estab­lished the Lab­o­ra­to­ry for Advanced Stor­age Sys­tems for Hydro­gen with­in the Depart­ment of Chem­i­cal Engi­neer­ing and Mate­ri­als Sci­ence to fur­ther hydro­gen ener­gy research. His life­long research result­ed in more than 225 pub­li­ca­tions.

Schwarz was award­ed a Ful­bright Award to study in Roma­nia in 1997. He also received the Anaren Microwave Award for Research and the pres­ti­gious Lang­muir Lec­ture­ship from the Amer­i­can Chem­i­cal Soci­ety. In 2002, SU award­ed Schwarz the Chancellor’s Cita­tion for Excep­tion­al Aca­d­e­m­ic Achieve­ment, one of the most pres­ti­gious awards bestowed by the Uni­ver­si­ty.

In the past few years, Schwarz bat­tled seri­ous health prob­lems. Even with the chal­lenges he faced, Schwarz came back and embraced his sit­u­a­tion as a chance to expand his learn­ing. After going through a hip replace­ment, he used that expe­ri­ence to branch out into bio­engi­neer­ing research. He served as direc­tor of a nanoscience lab­o­ra­to­ry at SU, con­tin­ued his hydro­gen research and was work­ing on two oth­er pub­li­ca­tions and a patent. He was also serv­ing as the chair of the Col­loid and Sur­face Chem­istry Divi­sion of the Amer­i­can Chem­i­cal Soci­ety (ACS).

Schwarz is sur­vived by his sis­ter, Lil­lian Jean Panachy­da of Lans­dale, Pa., and by numer­ous col­leagues and friends. A memo­r­i­al ser­vice will be held Oct. 2 at 2 p.m. at the East­ern Hills Bible Church, 4600 Enders Rd. in Man­lius, N.Y. A Uni­ver­si­ty memo­r­i­al ser­vice in Hen­dricks Chapel will be held at a lat­er date.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Con­tact: Kel­ly Homan Rodos­ki
Thurs­day, Sept. 30, 2004 Phone: (315) 443‑3784