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Obituary for Former Engineering Dean and Distinguished Professor Emeritus Joe Goldstein

Joseph Goldstein

Joseph Goldstein

Joseph I. Goldstein, 76, of Amherst, a Distinguished Professor Emeritus in the Mechanical and Industrial Engineering Department (MIE) and the former dean of the College of Engineering from 1993 to 2004, died June 27.
Read UMass Amherst News Office obituary »

As retiring MIE Department Head Don Fisher observed, “Joe, always modest, was a giant of a person, a Distinguished Professor in our department, and a recipient of many awards, both from the university and other professional societies.”

In addition to being named a Fellow of both the Microscopy Society of America and the American Society of Metals, Professor Goldstein has been presented with numerous prestigious awards and honors during his celebrated career. These included the 1999 Henry Clifton Sorby Award from the International Metallographic Society, the 2005 Leonard Medal honoring outstanding contributions to the science of meteoritics and closely allied fields, and the 2008 Duncumb Award for Excellence in Microanalysis, presented by the Microbeam Analysis Society. He even has an asteroid named after him, “Joegoldstein,” a heavenly body five-to-15-kilometers-in-diameter located in the asteroid belt between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter.

In addition, UMass Amherst has also honored Professor Goldstein as the recipient of the 2011 Award for Outstanding Accomplishments in Research and Creative Activity, the Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi 2008 Award for Distinguished Service to the University of Massachusetts, the 2008 Chancellor’s Medal, and the 2002 President’s Public Service Award for his work with computer science professor James Kurose on the Commonwealth Information Technology Initiative. In 2007 he was also honored as a UMass Amherst Distinguished Faculty Lecturer.

“But Joe is much more than the sum of his honors,” said Professor Fisher. “Over the last 20-plus years I have known Joe, he has been a close personal friend and such an incredible part of my own growth and the growth in our department and the college. Joe was there whenever I needed him, always helpful, and always supportive. I will miss him greatly.”

Professor Goldstein’s research interests included the use of electron probe microanalyzers, scanning electron microscopes, and analytical electron microscopes applied to problems in materials science and engineering. In that context, Professor Goldstein has studied hundreds of meteorites over the years, collected from extremely cold locations such as Antarctica, or extremely dry places such as deserts, where their extraterrestrial formation and characteristics can be preserved with minimal weathering.

“This is sort of like a detective story,” Goldstein once explained about his work. “You weren't there to see who done it, or in this case, what done it? But from the metals in these rocks, you can make many deductions about the formation of asteroids and planetary surfaces.”

Professor Goldstein earned his B.S. (1960), S.M. (1962), and Sc.D. (1964) from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. 

The funeral was held on June 30 at Congregation B'nai  Israel in Northampton, and the internment was held at the CBI cemetery after.