Rustum Roy

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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[edit]

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 1951 Rustum Roy became an assistant professor at Penn State, and in 1957 became a full professor. He became a naturalized citizen in 1961.

In 1962 he was named the first director of the Materials Research Laboratory at Penn State.[2] In 1968 an international conference on silicon carbide had its proceedings edited by Rustum Roy. In 1970 a colloquy Materials Science and Engineering in the United States was held at Penn State, and Roy edited its proceedings. In 1973 he edited with two others the proceedings of a conference on phase transitions.

In 1973 Roy started a materials science society at his institution, and the model spread to other campuses. By 1991 he was a spokesperson for the movement and his lecture "New Materials: Fountainhead for New Technologies and New Science"[3] was published by National Academy Press. 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.[4]


Edited volumes[edit]

  • Materials Science and Engineering in the United States: Proceedings (1970, contributor), Pennsylvania State University Press, ISBN 0271001011.
  • Materials Science and Engineering Serving Society (1998, with others), Elsevier Science, ISBN 0444827935.
  • The Interdisciplinary Imperative: Interactive Research and Education, Still an Elusive Goal in Academia (2000), Writers Club Press, ISBN 0595011799.

Other authored/co-authored books[edit]

  • Honest Sex (2003 [1969], with coauthor Della Roy), Signet Press, ISBN 0595272134.
  • Experimenting With Truth: The Fusion of Religion With Technology Needed for Humanity's Survival [1979 Hibbert Lectures] (1980), Pergamon Press, ISBN 0080258204.
  • Radioactive Waste (1982), Pergamon Press, ISBN 0080275419.
  • Lost at the Frontier: U.S. Science and Technology Policy Adrift (1985), ISI Press, ISBN 0894950428.

Other works[edit]

  • Science of Whole Person Healing: Proceedings of the First Interdisciplinary International Conference (2003, contributor), iUniverse, ISBN 0595301533.
  • Observations and Studies of the Healing Efficacy of the Life Vessel (2012) [2009].[5]

Other interests[edit]

University reform[edit]

In 1977 Rustum Roy proposed[6] 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.[6]: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.[7]

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.[8] which he defended in a letter to The Guardian.[9]

Awards and honours[edit]

Personal life[edit]

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.[11] He was survived by his wife and children.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d e f Wray, P. (2010). "Rustum Roy, 1924-2010". (online, September 14). Retrieved 21 November 2015. 
  2. ^ a b c 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. ^ New Materials: Fountainhead for New Technologies and New Science, link from Google Books
  4. ^ a b 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. 
  5. ^ 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. 
  6. ^ a b R. Roy (1977) "Interdisciplinary research on campus – the elusive dream", Chemical and Engineering News 55(35): 28–40
  7. ^ R. Roy (2010) Integrative medicine to tackle the problem of chronic diseases, Journal of Ayurveda and Integrative Medicine 1(1)
  8. ^ 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.' 
  9. ^ Roy, Rustum (2007). "'Homeophobia' must not be tolerated". The Guardian (online, December 19). Retrieved 2008-02-24. 
  10. ^ 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
  11. ^ Anon. (2010). "Influential Materials Scientist Rustum Roy Dies". Penn State News (online, August 27). Retrieved 21 November 2015. 

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]