Professor Roger Spanswick dies at 74

Roger Spanswick

Roger Morgan Spanswick, professor of biological and environmental engineering in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, died Feb. 12 in Ithaca at age 74.

A member of the CALS faculty since 1967, Spanswick was conducting research on the efficacy of canola oil as a biofuel and on plant-toxin remediation. He taught courses on metabolic engineering, transport of solutes in plants and transport of water in plants.

Teaching at first in the Department of Plant Biology, Spanswick moved to Biological and Environmental Engineering (BEE) in 2001 as a means of exploring new possibilities at the interface of biology and the physical world.

He earned a B.S. degree (1960) at the University of Birmingham, a diploma in biophysics (1961) and a doctorate (1964) at the University of Edinburgh. In 2004 he was elected a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and of the World Innovation Foundation.

BEE Chair Beth Ahner called Spanswick “a physiologist’s physiologist,” adding: “His integrity and his work is still the gold standard in the field. Roger was a stalwart presence in the department, generous with his time for students, researchers and colleagues.”

When Spanswick was selected in 2013 as the Cornell faculty member who was most influential by a Merrill Scholar, the student stated: “Dr. Spanswick is one of the most supportive, friendly and knowledgeable mentors I have ever had.”

Following wishes of the family, no services are scheduled. The department is considering a research symposium in his honor.

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Melissa Osgood