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Robert Bittman

by Susan J. Ainsworth
November 24, 2014 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 92, Issue 47

Photo of Robert Bittman.

Robert Bittman, 73, Distinguished Professor of Chemistry & Biochemistry at Queens College of the City University of New York (CUNY), died on Oct. 1 at his home in Roslyn Heights, N.Y., after a long battle with cancer.

A native of Queens, N.Y., Bittman earned a B.A. in chemistry from Queens College in 1962 and a Ph.D. in chemistry from the University of California, Berkeley, in 1965, under Andrew Streitwieser.

Bittman spent a postdoctoral year with Manfred Eigen at the Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry, in Göttingen, Germany, before returning to become an assistant professor at Queens College in 1966. He was appointed Distinguished Professor of Chemistry & Biochemistry in 1988. He was also a member of the doctoral faculty at CUNY’s Graduate Center.

A celebrated lipid chemist and expert on membrane structure and function, Bittman was known for his scientific rigor and dedication to top-quality writing—attributes that attracted many collaborators throughout his career.

Bittman was author or coauthor of more than 320 papers in refereed journals and held 19 patents. He had been coeditor of the Organic Reactions series since 1968.

He received the Avanti Award in Lipids from the American Society for Biochemistry & Molecular Biology in 2003 and was named an American Association for the Advancement of Science fellow in 2004. Bittman was a member of ACS for 52 years, joining in 1963.

His primary concern was the welfare of his students. He was an accomplished tennis player and an opera aficionado.

He is survived by his wife, Marlene; son, Mark; daughter, Lana; stepson, Scott Aronson; stepdaughter, Lauren Aronson; and two step-grandchildren.

Obituary notices of no more than 300 words may be sent to Susan J. Ainsworth at ­ and should include an educational and professional history.


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