Mark O. Robbins, professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy, and renowned condensed matter and statistical physicist, died unexpectedly on Thursday, August 13, 2020. A cause of death has not yet been made public. He was 64.
Robbins specialized in non-equilibrium processes like friction and adhesion, working to better understand the atomic origin of macroscopic phenomena such as earthquakes and avalanches. He also played a key role in supporting the development of computational facilities at Johns Hopkins, and was associate director of the Institute for Data Intensive Engineering and Science, coordinating the institute’s computing efforts.
According to Bloomberg Distinguished Professor and IDIES Director Alex Szalay, Robbins was central to the grass-roots effort to build the first shared computing cluster at JHU and subsequent expansions of that system. His efforts were also critical to establishing the alliance that resulted in the Maryland Advanced Research Computing Center, the largest computing system at JHU, and he was part of the team to receive a multi-million dollar grant from the National Science Foundation to expand the MARCC.
“Mark was the driving force behind bringing modern, high-performance computing to Johns Hopkins. The large computing systems he helped to create have changed the way we all do our research—he left indelible marks behind.”Alex Szalay, IDIES Director and Bloomberg Distinguished Professor