Obituary - Robert Henry "Pete" Bragg (1919 – 2017)

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Robert Henry “Pete” Bragg (1919 - 2017)



Robert Henry “Pete” Bragg, professor emeritus in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering in the College of Engineering at UC Berkeley, passed away on October 3, 2017, at the age of 98. He joined Berkeley in 1969, one of only six African-American faculty members on the campus. He chaired the department from 1978 – 1981.

Before earning his PhD, Bragg became an expert at x-ray crystallography and x-ray diffraction while working at the Portland Cement Association Research Laboratory. He went on to earn his PhD at Illinois Institute of Technology, working under his mentor Leonid V. Azaroff. Following receipt of his PhD, he worked for nine years on carbon-based materials at Lockheed Martin Missiles & Space Company.

The current Chair of the Materials Science and Engineering Department, Mark Asta, said “Professor Bragg pioneered the use of X-ray based techniques to characterize the structure of complex materials, particularly those containing light elements that had traditionally been relatively ‘transparent’ to these methods.” Besides being a professor at Berkeley, Bragg was a principal investigator in the Materials and Molecular Division of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. He served as an adviser to the U.S. Department of Energy, the Naval Research Laboratory, the National Science Foundation and the National Institute of Standards and Technology.