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Obituary: Robert Carovillano, Physics; 83


By Office of News & Public Affairs |

Published: Dec. 3, 2015

Robert Carovillano, an internationally recognized professor of physics who chaired the department for 13 years during his distinguished 44-year career at Boston College, died on Oct. 15. He was 83.

After earning master’s and doctoral degrees in theoretical physics from Indiana University, Dr. Carovillano – the son of Italian immigrants and first in his family to attend college – joined the Physics Department in 1959 as an assistant professor, and was promoted to professor in 1966; he served as department chair from 1969-82, and retired from BC in 2003. A prodigious scholar, he published numerous articles and books on the magnetosphere, ionosphere, solar wind, and related topics.

Dr. Carovillano pursued numerous professional activities and service in the field beyond BC.  He was a member or chair of numerous advisory committees for the National Academy of Sciences, National Center for Atmospheric Research, National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), and the National Science Foundation (NSF); he also was an officer and trustee of the Universities Space Research Association, where he twice served as chairman of the Council of Institutions, and an officer of the American Geophysical Union.

Dr. Carovillano was principal investigator on many research grants and contracts funded by the NSF, NASA, the Office of Naval Research, and the Air Force, and was a visiting senior scientist at NASA Headquarters in the Office of Space Science, where he was responsible for the supervision of several programs and research initiatives in space physics. He served on NASA’s Space Science Advisory Committee and reviewed numerous space shuttle and satellite projects.

A native of Newark, NJ, Dr. Carovillano overcame infantile paralysis from polio and was able to enjoy games of stickball in the streets of Newark, and later became an avid squash and tennis player. He was a resident of Needham while at BC, and later moved to Delray Beach, Fla.

He was pre-deceased by his wife, Mary Ann, to whom he was married for more than 30 years. His is survived by his daughters Deborah and Rebecca; his son David; sisters Rae and Geraldine; and eight grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.  

A private memorial service will be held at a later date.