Rustum Roy

Rustum Roy (July 3, 1924 – August 26, 2010) was a physicist, born in India, who became a professor at Pennsylvania State University and was a leader in materials research. As an advocate for interdisciplinarity, he initiated a movement of materials research societies and wrote about the need for a fusion of religion and science.

Later in life he held visiting professorships in materials science at Arizona State University, and in medicine at the University of Arizona.

Early life and education

Roy was born in Ranchi, Bihar Province, India, the son of Narenda Kumar and Rajkumari Roy.[1]

Rustum studied physical chemistry at Patna University, gaining his bachelor's degree in 1942 and master's degree in 1944. The following year he began study at Pennsylvania State University and earned his Ph.D. in engineering ceramics in 1948.[2]

Rustum Roy married Della Martin on June 8 that year.[1]


In 1962 he was named the first director of the Materials Research Laboratory at Penn State.[2] He edited the Proceedings[3] of a 1968 Conference on the chemistry of silicon carbide. The next year a national colloquy was held on materials science in the United States for which Roy edited the Proceedings.[4] In 1973 he edited the Proceedings[5] of a conference on phase transitions and their applications.

In 1974 Roy and Olaf Müller published The Major Ternary Structural Families with Springer-Verlag, which described the principal crystal structures of ternary compounds. The book received two brief reviews in materials trade journals. A cement journal reviewer said it would be "Useful to the practicing materials researcher, whether in industry or university, as well as the non-specialist who needs to become informed about particular materials."[6] A chemist writing for mineral processing readers, described its depth:

The structural descriptions are at times too brief but the chapters contain valuable information such as compositional structure field maps (radius A vs. radius B), figures of unit cells or the polyhedral arrangements in some common structures, phase diagrams (P vs. T , or P vs. ionic radius), structural relationships, and phase transition data.[7]

By 1991 he was a spokesperson for the movement and his lecture "New Materials: Fountainhead for New Technologies and New Science" was published by National Academy Press.[8] Roy presented the lecture to learned audiences in Washington, D.C.; Tokyo, Japan; New Delhi, Stockholm, Copenhagen, and London in 1991 and 92. He made the case for linking a technical need to investigative effort, which he terms "technology traction", noting that the method is productive and cost-effective in comparison to science conducted with other purposes.

Rustum Roy was referred to as "[o]ne of the legends of materials science" at the time of his death.[1]

Roy was elected as a member of the U.S. National Academy of Engineering in 1973.[9]

Other interests

University reform

In 1977 Rustum Roy proposed[10] that the "science and engineering activity of a university ... [be organized] primarily around a dozen permanent mission-oriented interdisciplinary laboratories." To reach this conclusion he notes that "universities have been forced into new interdisciplinary patterns not only by the dollar sign but also by the inexorable logic that the real problems of society do not come in discipline-shaped blocks."

The daunting structural inertia of the university did not faze him:

A human being, that is both a naked ape and a fallen angel, can manage perhaps to organize the university with both the ivory tower and service-station character.[10]:30


In the inaugural issue of the Journal of Ayurveda and Integrative Medicine Roy contributed the article "Integrative medicine to tackle the problem of chronic diseases". He noted that chronic illness debilitates the lives of many seniors, and that medical interventions are often futile. He said "little of nothing is being spent on preventative medicine", and cited the ayurveda concepts of "ahara" concerned with nutrition, and "vihara" with the conduct of life. He noted the exemplary work of Dean Ornish in addressing coronary artery disease as a hopeful innovation.[11]

Roy published in a journal for which he was editor-in-chief; he wrote in great technical detail about the theory of water structure, and its potential to the alternative medical specialty, homeopathy.[12] which he defended in a letter to The Guardian.[13]

Personal life

Roy married Della Martin Roy on June 8, 1948. Their three children are Neill R. Roy, Jeremy R. Roy, and Ronnen A. Roy.[1]

Roy died on August 26, 2010 at the age of 86.[14] He was survived by his wife and children.[1]

Awards and honours


Edited volumes

Other authored/co-authored books

Other works


  1. 1 2 3 4 5 Wray, P. (2010). "Rustum Roy, 1924-2010". (online, September 14). Retrieved 21 November 2015.
  2. 1 2 Somiya, Shigeyuki & Ikuma, Yasuro (2011). "Obituary: Professor Rustum Roy, July 1924-August 2010". Transactions of the Materials Research Society of Japan. 36 (1). Retrieved 16 September 2016.
  3. R. Roy (1969) Silicon Carbide, proceedings of International Conference on Silicon Carbide, University Park, Pa (1968), Pergamon Press
  4. R Roy (1970) Materials Science and Engineering in the United States, proceedings of a National Colloquy on the Field of Materials (1969: Pennsylvania State University), Pennsylvania State University Press.
  5. R. Roy (1973) Phase Transitions, proceedings of Conference on Phase Transitions and their Applications, Pergamon Press
  6. D.M.R. (1975) Cement and Concrete Research 5(3): 267,8 doi:10.1016/0008-8846(75)90011-3
  7. B. Chamberland (1975) International Journal of Mineral Processing doi:10.1016/0301-7516(75)90030-7
  8. New Materials: Fountainhead for New Technologies and New Science, link from Google Books
  9. 1 2 NAE (2015). "Members Directory: Prof. Rustum Roy". Washington, DC, USA: National Academy of Engineering. Retrieved 21 November 2015. Election citation: Contributions to the development of the modern science and technology of non-metallic materials. Primary Section: Materials Engineering.
  10. 1 2 R. Roy (1977) "Interdisciplinary research on campus – the elusive dream", Chemical and Engineering News 55(35): 28–40
  11. R. Roy (2010) Integrative medicine to tackle the problem of chronic diseases, Journal of Ayurveda and Integrative Medicine 1(1)
  12. Roy, R, Tiller, WA Bell, I & Hoover, MR (2009). "The Structure of Liquid Water: Novel Insights from Materials Research, Potential Relevance to Homeopathy" (PDF). Indian Journal of Research in Homoeopathy. 3 (2, April–June): 36ff. Retrieved 21 November 2015. This article was originally published in the journal Materials Research Innovations 9[(4):577-608, ISSN] 1433-075X. Reprint with the consent of the author and the publisher.'
  13. Roy, Rustum (2007). "'Homeophobia' must not be tolerated". The Guardian (online, December 19). Retrieved 2008-02-24.
  14. Anon. (2010). "Influential Materials Scientist Rustum Roy Dies". Penn State News (online, August 27). Retrieved 21 November 2015.
  15. R. Roy (1979) Experimenting with Truth; The fusion of Religion with Technology, needed for Humanity’s survival, Hibbert Lectures for 1979, Pergamon Press ISBN 0-08-025820-4
  16. Roy, Rustum (2009). "Observations and Studies of the Healing Efficacy of the Life Vessel". Scottsdale, AZ, USA: Life Vessel Arizona Advanced Wellness Center. Retrieved 21 November 2015.

Further reading

External links

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