Beloved colleague Joseph Cerny has passed away

April 25, 2024

Photo of Joseph Cerny

Photo: Joseph Cerny, by Paul Preuss

We are sorry to share the sad news that Joseph Cerny, beloved colleague and Professor of the Graduate School at the College of Chemistry, has passed away at the age of 87.

Professor Cerny received his B.S. in Chemical Engineering from the University of Mississippi in 1957, and during 1957-58 attended the University of Manchester, England on a Fulbright Scholarship. He earned his Ph.D. in nuclear chemistry from UC Berkeley in 1961 and began work as an assistant professor at the university, simultaneously joining the Nuclear Science Division (then the Nuclear Chemistry Division) at Lawrence Berkeley Lab (then the Radiation Laboratory, or Rad Lab).

Professor Cerny had a distinguished career in science and university administration. He and his colleagues discovered a new type of radioactive decay— the direct two proton emission – and expanded research at Lawrence Berkeley Lab. At Berkeley, he served as chair of the chemistry department, focusing on supporting graduate students and research quality, serving as Dean of the Graduate Division and Vice Chancellor for Research, and leading groundbreaking studies on student career outcomes. Additionally, he developed innovative research methods using particle accelerators. Over his career, Professor Cerny received many honors and awards for his achievements, including the Berkeley Citation in 2013, but they do not provide a complete picture of the various personal and professional contributions he has made to our community.

He retired in 2013 after more than half a century of research and leadership at Berkeley Lab and UC Berkeley. Please join me in honoring this distinguished colleague. He will be greatly missed.