College of Engineering ECE Chair Dies
Franco Cerrina remembered as warm, personable| From Digest | By Leslie Friday and Art Jahnke
Franco Cerrina Photo by Vernon Doucette
Franco Cerrina, 62, chair of the College of Engineering’s electrical and computer engineering department, died on June 28.
Cerrina was found dead in a Photonics Center laboratory, discovered by a staff member. The death has been ruled noncriminal by the Boston Police Department.
President Robert A. Brown says Cerrina will be sorely missed. “Although he had only been with us for less than two years,” Brown says, “Franco had already distinguished himself by his intellect, leadership, and warmth to all who had the chance to know him.”
Cerrina was a great catch for BU, says Bennett Goldberg, a College of Arts & Sciences professor of physics. “He had great experience in many fields, great integrity, and he was incredibly personable,” says Goldberg. He recalls often seeing Cerrina in the gym in the morning, where Cerrina would talk about the need to stay in shape.
Wayne Rennie, director of the electrical and computer engineering department, describes Cerrina, who rode his bike to work from Cambridge, as a “wonderful, fantastic, and gentle person, who always had time for you. He always had time for your problems.”
Before coming to BU as electrical and computer engineering chair in August 2008, Cerrina taught for 24 years at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, where he was the Lynn H. Matthias Professor in Engineering and director of the Center for NanoTechnology, a research organization specializing in advanced semiconductor lithography and nanofabrication. At Wisconsin, his research focused on the application of techniques developed for semiconductor nanofabrication to biological problems.
Cerrina, who earned a PhD in physics at the University of Rome in 1974, held 16 patents and was a cofounder of five companies.
He had more than 300 reviewed publications and was a fellow of the American Physical Society, the Optical Society of America, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, SPIE, and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers.