Bertram Donn 1919-2012

Bertram DonnDr. Bertram “Bert” Donn, the first head of NASA Goddard’s astrochemistry group, passed away on Friday December 28, 2012 at age 93. A New Yorker by birth, Bert attended Harvard University where he was taught by such legends as Fred Whipple, Cecilia Payne, and Bart Bok. A meeting with Harold Urey in the 1950s turned Bert’s attention to problems of low-temperature reactions and their connections to cometary and interstellar chemistry. Bert’s research at Goddard spanned theory, observation, and experiment, with connections to NASA missions such as Skylab, Apollo, and the International Ultraviolet Explorer. Bert also was an early NASA contributor to the astrobiological literature, he initiated several astrobiology-related research projects at Goddard, and he founded Goddard laboratories for studying the chemistry and physics of ice, dust, and nucleation. He was a 50-year member of the American Astronomical Society and a long-time DPS member. Aside from his Goddard work, Bert was a well-known and honored advocate of non-violence and peaceful conflict resolution, and was instrumental in the racial integration of Greenbelt, Maryland, where he and his family lived for 50 years. For more information please see

– Reggie Hudson and Joe Nuth (January 6, 2013)