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Posted on September 22, 2018 | 1:28 a.m.

Jacob Nissim Israelachvili of Santa Barbara, 1944-2018

Source: Israelachvili Family

Jacob Israelachvili Click to view larger
A prominent physicist, chemical engineer, material scientist and inventor, Jacob Israelachvili was a research professor emeritus at UC Santa Barbara, where he had taught since 1986. (Israelachvili Family photo)

In the early hours of September 20, 2018, Jacob Nissim Israelachvili passed away peacefully after battling with cancer for over a year. He was surrounded by loving family and he died without pain. He was 74.

He is survived by his family: wife Trudi Carey, daughters Josefin Kannin and Daniela Silcock, sons Nathan and Sam Carey, grandchildren John Jacob and Cassidy Elizabeth Kannin, and sister Etty Caspi.

His kindness, generosity of spirit and sense of humor will be greatly missed by all.

At the time of his death, Jacob was a research professor emeritus at UC Santa Barbara, where he led the Interfacial Sciences Lab for more than 30 years. He was a prominent physicist, chemical engineer, material scientist and inventor of the Surforce measuring device.

He was a Fellow of the Royal Society and American Physical Society, and recipient of many honors, including ACS National Award in Colloid and Surface Chemistry (2009); named by the AICHE as one of the “One Hundred Chemical Engineers of the Modern Era” (2008); honorary degree of Doctor of Engineering, University of South Florida (2007); honorary degree of Doctor sc. h.c., ETH Zurich (2006); Schlumberger Visiting Professor, University of Oxford, United Kingdom (2005); MRS Medal, awarded for recent work on adhesion and friction (2004); elected to the U.S. National Academy of Science in the area of Engineering Science (2004); APS Fellow (elected Fellow of the American Physical Society in the area of Biological Physics) (2004); Adhesion Society Award for “excellence in adhesion science (2003); Fellow of the Royal Society (1988); Matthew Flinders Medal and Lecture (1986); David Syme Research Prize (1983); elected a fellow of the Australian Academy of Science (1982); Pawsey Medal (1977); and Tribology Gold Medal Laureate (International Institute for Mechanical Engineers) (2013).

Jacob was born in Tel Aviv, Israel, to Hela and Chaim Israelachvili in 1944, and attended Wittinghame College Boarding School in Brighton, England, from the age of 7. At age 18, he was a medic in the Israeli military. He then returned to the United Kingdom to study physics at Cambridge University. He received his Ph.D. in Physics from Christ’s College, Cambridge in 1972.

After his graduation, he earned his Post-Doctorate and performed research experiments at Cambridge with his mentor, professor David Tabor. Subsequently, he became a Research Fellow at the Biophysics Institute, University of Stockholm and at the Karolinska Institute.

In 1974, he became a fellow in the Research School of Physical Science and the Research School of Biological Sciences at the Institute of Advanced Studies, Australian National University in Canberra. In 1977, he became a senior fellow in the Department of Applied Mathematics and Department of Neurobiology at the Institute of Advanced Studies, Australian National University in Canberra.

In 1986, he moved with his family from Canberra to Santa Barbara to take a position at UCSB as a professor in the department of chemical engineering material science and BioMolecular Science and Engineering Programs. In 2017, he became a Professor Emeritus, and continued as a research professor at UCSB. He is the author of the textbook, Intermolecular and Surface Forces, published by Academic Press and now in its third edition.

Among all of his accomplishments, Jacob could also execute a perfect back flip off a trampoline, was frequently the life of the party, and an outstanding gentleman.

A service will take place at 3:30 p.m. Sunday, September 23, at Congregation B’nai B’rith, 1000 San Antonio Creek Road in Santa Barbara, California.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made to the Scholarship Foundation of Santa Barbara for the Jacob N. Israelachvili Science Scholarship. Checks should be made payable to Scholarship Foundation of Santa Barbara with “Jacob Israelachvili” in the memo line, and can be mailed to P.O. Box 3620, Santa Barbara 93130. Click here to make an online donation.


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