Robert F. Sawyer
1935 – 2022
Dr. Robert F. Sawyer (1935-2022) passed away on 17 November 2022. As a longtime member of The Combustion Institute, Robert’s service to the combustion community was prolific and impactful, presenting at several sectional and international symposia, and serving as Secretary, Vice President, and President of The Combustion Institute. He was among the first class of Fellows of The Combustion Institute, recognized for his breakthroughs in the understanding of air pollution, vehicle emissions, energy and environment and regulatory policy.
Dr. Sawyer studied at Stanford University in the Department of Mechanical Engineering (B.S. 1957, M.S. 1958). He served as a Rocket Test and Propulsion Research Engineer, and Chief of the Liquid Systems Analysis Section at the Air Force Rocket Propulsion Laboratory, Edwards AFB, California (1958‑1961). He obtained his graduate and doctoral degrees from the Department of Aerospace Sciences at Princeton University (M.A. 1963, Ph.D. 1966).
He joined the faculty of the Mechanical Engineering Department of the University of California at Berkeley as an assistant professor in 1966 and served through the rank of full professor (1991). He held a joint appointment as a Senior Faculty Scientist at the Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory, where he was Vice Chairperson for Graduate Studies in Mechanical Engineering (1980‑1983) and Chairperson of the Energy and Resources Group (1984‑1988). He was selected the first Class of 1935 Professor of Energy Emeritus (1988) at Berkeley. His many visiting appointments included: Research Scientist at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, Researcher at Imperial College, Professor at Hokkaido University, Professor at the Toyohashi University of Technology, Scientist at the Sandia National Laboratory Combustion Research Facility, and Honorary Research Fellow at University College London.
Dr. Sawyer also served on numerous industrial and governmental advisory commissions including: the President’s Council on Environmental Quality Advisory Committee on Alternative Automotive Power Systems, the Technology Panel of the National Academy of Sciences Committee on Motor Vehicle Emissions, the State of California ad hoc Committee on Atmospheric Carcinogens, the National Academy of Sciences Committee on Diesel Engine Technology, the National Research Council Committee on Army Basic Research, the California Air Resources Board, KVB, Inc., the Center for Emissions Research and Analysis, the External Advisory Panel to the World Bank Mexico City Transport Air Quality Management Program, the Office of Air and Radiation of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the Distinguished Advisory Panel to the Joint Auto/Oil Air Quality Improvement Research Program, the U.S. EPA Blue Ribbon Panel on MTBE, the National Research Council Committee to Review the MOBILE Model, the National Research Council Committee on Evaluation of the Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality (CMAQ) Program, the U.S. EPA Clean Diesel Independent Review Panel, and more.
Dr. Sawyer was also a Fellow of the Society of Automotive Engineers, Associate Fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, and a member of the Air and Waste Management Association, American Society of Mechanical Engineers, and American Association of University Professors.
The Combustion Institute honors Robert Sawyer’s accomplishments and the work of scientific leaders who make significant contributions for the advancement of many diverse communities around the world.