In Memoriam

Oct 18 2018

Christopher Rae Jacobs, Professor

Christopher Rae Jacobs, PhD, died July 1, 2018, in his home in Harlem after a long battle with cancer. Born in Buffalo, New York, in 1965, Jacobs was a beloved professor of biomedical engineering at Columbia University since 2008 and a leader in the field of biomechanics, widely recognized for his seminal research in bone cellular mechanotransduction and computational biomechanics. In addition to teaching and research, he was also an author, lecturer, and avid outdoorsman who loved to golf, ski, hike, and climb mountains.

The author of many papers, Jacobs had recently coauthored an acclaimed textbook, Introduction to Cell Mechanics and Mechanobiology, with Hayden Huang and Ronald Y. Kwon. As director of the Cell and Molecular Biomechanics Lab at Columbia, he conducted research that aided in developing new therapies for age-related bone loss and osteoporosis. Prior to Columbia, Jacobs taught at Stanford University and at Penn State University.

Jacobs was awarded a PhD in mechanical engineering at Stanford University in 1994, an MS in mechanical engineering from Stanford in 1989, and a BS in systems science and mathematics at Washington University in 1988. Among his honors, he won the prestigious Van C. Mow Medal in bioengineering and the Richard Skalak Award for best paper in the Journal of Biomechanical Engineering with Julia Chen.

His late father, Rae Rodney Jacobs, MD, was an orthopedic surgeon; and his mother, Roberta Mae Gilbert Douglass, MD, 83, is a psychiatrist and author of five books. Jacobs is also survived by his wife, Claire M. Julian; a brother, Gregory Jacobs; and other relatives. His wife gave birth to their daughter and first child, Rae Christina, on July 3, 2018.

Christopher Rae Jacobs

Glenn K. Rightmire, Professor Emeritus

Professor Emeritus Glenn K. Rightmire passed away peacefully on May 6, 2018, with family by his side. He was 85 years old.

Born in 1932 in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, to Harold and Mary Helen (Wetzel) Rightmire, he received engineering degrees from NYU and Columbia University. First employed at Princeton University, he was later recruited by Columbia’s mechanical engineering department, where he conducted cutting-edge research on compliance bearings. A highly popular professor and mentor, Rightmire also served as a sought-after adviser, researcher, and assistant dean of special programs. An accomplished musician, Rightmire also composed the country song “Doll Baby.” 

Glenn K. Rightmire

Amiya K. Sen, Professor Emeritus

Professor Emeritus Amiya K. Sen, a noted expert in plasma physics and a respected educator, passed away at his home on March 28, 2018. He was 89 years old.

Sen spent over 50 years on the faculty at Columbia Engineering, which he joined in 1963 in a joint appointment with the Departments of Electrical Engineering and of Applied Physics and Applied Mathematics. While at Columbia, Sen became a pioneer in the control and study of drift instabilities in magnetically confined plasma. Drift instabilities are called “universal instabilities,” because they occur in all magnetized plasma, exciting turbulent fluctuations and causing transport of plasma particles and energy across the confining lines of magnetic force. Using a unique laboratory experiment called the Columbia Linear Machine, Sen and his students were able to excite and observe drift instabilities under a great variety of conditions. The Sen research group made the first controlled observations of drift instabilities excited by gradients of ion temperature, magnetic field strength, and the effects of magnetic electron trapping. Using active feedback techniques, Sen successfully controlled drift instabilities and measured drift wave at both small and large amplitudes. Professor Sen’s research group established new understanding of these fundamental drift instabilities and helping efforts to predict plasma confinement in magnetic fusion energy experiments and in the magnetized plasma in space.

A graduate of the Indian Institute of Science in 1952, Sen earned his MS from MIT in 1958, and his PhD at Columbia in 1963. Over the course of his career, Sen published numerous papers in the top archival journal in his field, the Physical Review Letters, as well as in several other publications. A fellow of the American Physical Society and IEEE, he also served as a consultant/adviser to the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory, U.S. Department of Energy, and National Science Foundation. The Society of Columbia Graduates honored him with the Great Teacher Award in 1984.

Amiya Sen retired from Columbia Engineering in 2017.

Amiya K. Sen



Dr. Fred H. Kant (BS’51, EngScD’57) Exxon/Mobil executive, Columbia University staff member, ESL tutor.

It is with great sadness that we mourn the passing of Fred H. Kant, 88, who passed away on April 16, 2018, after a valiant struggle against cancer.

Fred was a man of many talents; beloved by many and admired by all those he met. A graduate and award-winning scholar of Columbia Engineering through his doctorate, Fred began his career at Esso Research and Engineering (now Exxon/Mobil) as a chemical engineer and remained an executive with Exxon/Mobil for 30 years. He returned to his alma mater, where he spent the next 18 years as the associate director of technology transfer at Columbia University. There he patented and marketed inventions generated by both graduate students and faculty. He then retired to Cranford, N.J., and began tutoring as part of the ESL program.

He leaves his beloved wife of 65 years, Clarisse; his daughters, Karyn Masterson and Eva Margot Kant; sons-in-law, Jack Masterson and Thomas Logan; granddaughters, Erin Buchalter and Shannon Masterson; grandson-in-law, Antonio DeAngelis; and great-grandchildren, Katelyn Buchalter, Austin James Buchalter, Briel Masterson, and Carmine DeAngelis.


Bart Blanchard (Basil Barton Blanchard III) passed away on March 20, 2018. He was born in Boston, Massachusetts, on August 13, 1940.

Blanchard graduated from the Boston Latin School in 1958 and went on to receive a bachelor of science in engineering from Columbia University in 1963. While at Columbia, Blanchard also played on the football team, later playing semiprofessionally with the Boston Chippewas. He worked as a civil engineer for many years in Connecticut and New York, retiring from the City of Boston as chief building inspector.

In 2009, Blanchard moved to Denver, Colorado, where he enjoyed his time reading, brewing beer, baking bread, playing cribbage, curling, and sharing wisdom around the dining room table with his grandchildren.

Blanchard is survived by his wife of nearly 50 years, June (Mowbray) Blanchard, his daughter Brenna Campbell, and other relatives.