Published December 21, 2018
Richard Gonsalves, professor emeritus of physics, died Dec. 19 after an illness of several months.
Gonsalves was a theoretical particle physicist who did groundbreaking work in quantum chromodynamics (QCD). In 1980, only a few years after the introduction of QCD as the quantum field theory of strong interactions of quarks and gluons, Gonsalves published in Physical Review Letters his most noteworthy paper, pioneering the analytic calculation of higher-order QCD corrections to electron-positron scattering.
This work enabled important tests of QCD when compared with experimental data, and was crucial for establishing this new theory. He later expanded his highly influential work to the study of the carriers of the weak nuclear force, the W and Z bosons. His detailed calculations of the properties of these particles provided firm and reliable theoretical predictions, which allowed for precision tests of the underlying theory, in particular the QCD-improved parton model, at the high-energy colliders Tevatron at Fermilab and Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN.
His colleagues say his contributions remain important ingredients to the mathematical toolbox used in the ongoing search for signals of new physics beyond the Standard Model at high-energy colliders.
Gonsalves joined the UB physics faculty in 1980 and served as department chair from 1996 to 2004. He received a Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching in 1994. Gonsalves retired from UB in 2017.
He earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in physics from the University of Madras in Madras, India, and two additional master’s degrees and a doctoral degree in physics from Columbia University.
Hong Luo, professor and chair of the Department of Physics, called Gonsalves “the kindest person I have ever met. He was always understanding and helpful,” and a “great mentor” to faculty.
Luo noted that Gonsalves “made a lot of contributions to our education effort,” including working with colleagues to streamline instruction of introductory physics classes so that students could be taught and assessed uniformly.
“During his tenure as chair, he paved the way for the transition of the department,” he said, “and made it possible for the high quality of our research and education programs today that we have great pride in.”
A service for Gonsalves will take place at 4 p.m. Dec. 22 at Amigone Funeral Home, 2600 Sheridan Drive, Tonawanda.