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Rustgi Family Gift Provides Physics Professorship to UB

By Cynthia Machamer

Release Date: April 5, 2007

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Brothers Vinod K. Rustgi, M.D., and Anil K. Rustgi, M.D., along with their mother, Kamla Rustgi, are honoring their father's memory by endowing the Moti Lal Rustgi Professorship in the Department of Physics in the University at Buffalo's College of Arts and Sciences.

The professorship honors the memory of Moti Lal Rustgi, who was a professor in the UB Department of Physics from 1966-92. He died on Nov. 16, 1992, at the age of 63. He lived in Amherst.

"We are grateful for the generosity of the Rustgis," said Bruce D. McCombe, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, and former close colleague of Professor Rustgi. "Professorships are a way to recognize superior performance and also attract quality faculty to UB. We are thankful to the Rustgi family for lending this distinction to the physics department."

The first endowed professorship in the UB Department of Physics, it will be awarded to an exceptional scholar who has demonstrated ability to conduct outstanding research. Like Rustgi, the faculty member named to the professorship will be a world-class scholar. The professorship will be used to enhance ongoing research efforts and explore new ideas and directions.

"Our father was a bright, passionate scientist, educator, mentor and administrator who served UB and the national physics communities with distinction," his sons said in a statement. "Apart from his nearly 150 publications in nuclear physics and related fields, mentoring Ph.D. students and postdoctoral fellows, presentations at national meetings, and fellowship in the American Physics Society, his greatest traits were his sense of fairness, integrity and professionalism.'

They continued: "These and other accomplishments and characteristics have led us to endow the UB professorship in his name, honor and memory as an enduring tribute to him. Of course, he couldn't have done it without the unwavering support and dedication of our courageous mother. We also wish to pay tribute to the extended Rustgi family and friends in the Buffalo area, including our dear uncle, Dr. Om P. Rustgi, and to the memory of Dr. Rajendra Rustgi."

Both sons were inspired by their father to pursue careers of scholarly research in prestigious academic medical centers. Vinod is co-director of the Transplant Institute and clinical professor of medicine and surgery at Georgetown University School of Medicine. Anil is the T. Grier Miller Professor of Medicine and Genetics at the University of Pennsylvania. He is chief of the Gastroenterology Division and director of the NIH- funded Center for Molecular Studies in Digestive and Liver Diseases.

A native of Delhi, India, Moti Lal Rustgi graduated with honors from Delhi University with a Bachelor of Science degree at the age of 20; two years later he earned his master's degree in physics from the university. Rustgi pursued doctoral studies at Stanford University and later at Louisiana State University, where he earned his doctorate in theoretical nuclear physics. In 1957 he completed his dissertation, "Photodisintegration of the Lightest Nuclei," and left LSU for Yale University to spend three years as a research associate. Dr. Rustgi assumed faculty positions thereafter at Harvard University, the National Research Council (Ottawa), University of Southern California, and at Yale University.

Rustgi joined the UB faculty in 1966 and worked at UB for 26 years. He was a prolific researcher in the fields of medical, nuclear, atomic and solid-state physics, with approximately 150 articles published in scholarly journals He was an expert on photodisintegration theory.

Rustgi served the UB community with distinction, including as director of graduate studies in the Department of Physics. He was a visiting scholar at Oak Ridge National Labs, U.S. Naval Labs in Washington, D.C., NASA (Langley, Va.), and SUNY/Stonybrook. His professional and personal papers contain his prodigious pedagogical and research efforts, his publications and the research of his graduate students and fellows, totaling more than 20 such trainees. These notes, notebooks, correspondences, and theses, which span from 1952-92, were donated by the Rustgi sons to the UB University Archives in 2003. Vinod and Anil established the Moti Lal Rustgi Archive Fund in 2004 in support of the Archives efforts to process and preserve science faculty papers. (Visit http://ublib.buffalo.edu/libraries/units/archives/ead/976/976.body.html for more information.)

The generosity of the Rustgi family extends to the Moti Lal Rustgi Memorial lecture, a program that brings internationally regarded researchers to the UB campus. The lecture program was established in 1993, and since its inception, has included four Nobel Laureautes. This year's lecture will be held on April 6. (Visit http://electron.physics.buffalo.edu/ for more information.)