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In Memoriam
Edward Kerner

Mark Sharnoff, professor of physics and astronomy, remembered Dr. Edward Kerner at the April 8 General Faculty meeting as an “articulate statesman and a tenacious and meticulous scholar.” “Ed was the one who attended the speeches of others before offering his own; and he never spoke with intent of attracting attention to himself,” Sharnoff said.

During his earliest years, Dr. Kerner served as the Department of Physics representative to the Faculty Senate. Sharnoff noted that Dr. Kerner’s first experience with the University was being the first recruited to the newly launched physics doctoral program in 1962.

Much to the delight of his fellow colleagues and former students, Dr. Kerner also received the University’s Excellence in Teaching Award in 1964.

“His always friendly character and gentle patience – also with those of us not very skilled in deep analytical thinking – endeared him to us,” wrote former student Peter Thejll in an email from Denmark.

Sharnoff attested to Dr. Kerner’s warm and encouraging character and said that his “door was never closed” when advice and conversation was sought.

“It was a great thrill to come and sit in his office guest chair and mull over something or other,” Thejll wrote, “I hope they make teachers like him in the future.”

Born in New York City in 1924, Dr. Kerner was interested in the sciences at a young age. He received his bachelor’s degree in 1943 and then his doctorate degree from Cornell in 1950.

During his post-undergraduate studies, he worked with the legendary Richard P. Feyman to better understand particle electrodynamics. In 1999, Dr. Kerner published “Nonassociative Structure of Quantum Mechanics in Curved Space-time” in the Journal of Mathematical Physics, one of 32 articles he wrote while at the University.

Dr. Kerner taught at the university until he was 77. Sharnoff described his unyielding resolve in the days that preceded his death. “Ed would request that pencil, paper and a cup of hot chocolate be brought to his bedside. ‘I need to work!’ he would exhort…As usual, it was not work that Ed sought, but light.”

Dr. Kerner died Feb. 11, 2002