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Physicist Martin Schaden dies at 60; taught at NYU, Rutgers

Theoretical physicist Martin Schaden, 60, of Rockville Centre

Theoretical physicist Martin Schaden, 60, of Rockville Centre had research published in dozens of peer-reviewed publications, his sister-in-law said. He died in July while vacationing in Italy. Credit: Carmela Romanello Schaden

A top theoretical physicist, Martin Schaden, 60, of Rockville Centre mastered esoteric concepts but never overshadowed others, instead delighting in his family, students and travels.

“He was so incredibly down-to-earth, you would never know that you were talking to a world-renowned physicist,” said his sister-in-law, Jennifer Romanello of Rockville Centre.

Schaden, who died suddenly in July while vacationing with his family in southern Italy, was one of those rare researchers who don’t lock themselves away in laboratories. He was “beloved for his outgoing, enthusiastic personality,” Romanello said.

A natural teacher, Schaden had a love of science that was “a form of humanism,” she said. He insisted “that students not just understand and follow scientific reasoning, but enjoy it as well.”

Born in Vienna, he earned a doctorate at the University of Vienna. He became a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Regensburg in Bavaria and also lectured at the Technical University of Munich.

Schaden began his scientific research in the United States in 1993 at New York University and joined the faculty of Rutgers University-Newark in 2004, where he was teaching at the time of his death, the family said.

His research, which he presented at institutions around the world, was published in dozens of peer-reviewed publications, Romanello said.

Schaden’s intellectual curiosity, a necessary trait for scientists, inspired him to immerse himself in the cultures of all the nations his research and teaching took him to, from China to Europe.

“He wasn’t skimming the surface when he went to another country, he was really digging and wanting to see what was beyond the tourist book,” Romanello said.

He married Carmela in 1995; the couple enjoyed classical music and almost annual trips to Italy with their children.

Schaden also was an opera fan, most recently enjoying a performance of Puccini’s “Manon Lescaut” this summer in Vienna.

He had taken on the daunting commute to Rutgers from Rockville Centre so that his wife could be near her relatives.

Romanello described her brother-in-law as “very dedicated and devoted to his children.”

In addition to his wife, survivors include a son, Marco, and daughter, Arianna, both of Rockville Centre; his mother, Margarethe Schaden, of Vienna; and a brother, Peter, of Frankfurt, Germany.

Schaden was buried July 27 at Locust Valley Cemetery after a graveside funeral service.

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