Sad News - Professor Emeritus Jacob Israelachvili

September 21, 2018

Dear Members of our Campus Community,

It is with great sadness that I write to share with you the news that Professor Emeritus Jacob Israelachvili passed away on September 20 at home, surrounded by his loved ones.

Dr. Israelachvili joined our faculty in 1986. He held joint appointments as Professor in our Chemical Engineering Department, Materials Department, and BioMolecular Science and Engineering Program. From 1993 to 2003, he served as Associate Director of our Materials Research Laboratory.

He was a highly influential scientist and engineer, authoring or co-authoring 492 journal articles as well as a 700-page textbook on Intermolecular and Surface Forces, which became the standard reference in this field. Since 2011, the 3rd edition of this textbook has been cited more than 30,000 times. He is known for developing original and path-breaking experimental techniques for measuring intermolecular forces that have led to the discovery and elucidation of fundamental molecular interactions in complex colloidal and biological systems and at interfaces. This aided in the development of technological applications including the creation of biocompatible surfaces, development of new types of structured materials and soft biomaterials, and diagnosis of pathological membranes and tissues. 

Dr. Israelachvili was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 2004, and to the National Academy of Engineering as a Foreign Associate in 1996. He was a Fellow of the Royal Society of London, the American Physical Society, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Among the many other honors and recognitions he received for his pioneering research were the William H. Walker Award for Excellence in Contributions to Chemical Engineering Literature from the American Institute of Chemical Engineers in 2012, the American Chemical Society’s National Award in Colloid and Surface Chemistry in 2009, and the Materials Research Society Medal in 2004. He was our campus’s Faculty Research Lecturer in 1997.

Through his research, teaching, mentorship, and leadership, Professor Israelachvili has had a lasting impact on our academic community and the global scientific community. He will be deeply missed by all the members of our UC Santa Barbara family. Our hearts go out especially to his wife, Trudi, and to all of his family members, colleagues, students, and friends. Our campus flag will be lowered in his honor on September 25.

A service will be held this Sunday, September 23, at 3:30 p.m., at the B’nai B’rith Synagogue in Santa Barbara.


Henry T. Yang