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Devendra Lal, 1929-2012

| by:Secretary
Devendra Lal died on December 1 at his San Diego home. He was 83.

Throughout his long career, Professor Lal was known for the diversity and creativity of his research interests.  His early work on the composition and energy spectrum of primary cosmic radiation and in elementary particle physics became the basis for his research on the mechanisms and rates of natural physical and chemical processes on Earth and in the Solar System using radionuclides.  He worked on nuclear tracks and radioactivity in the Apollo lunar samples and in meteorites.  His work brought him numerous international honors, among them as a Fellow of the Meteoritical Society and the Royal Society, Foreign Associate of the US National Academy of Sciences, Fellow of the Indian Academy of Sciences, and recipient of the V. M. Goldschmidt Medal of the Geochemical Society.

Professor Lal held appointments in India, first as a professor at the Tata Institute and then as professor and director of the Physical Research laboratory in Ahmedabad.  From 1989 onward he made the Scripps Institution of Oceanography his full-time academic home.  He worked closely with his wife Aruna until her death.

To his many friends and colleagues Professor Lal was well known for insatiable curiosity and good humor, and as a caring and demanding teacher.  He was born to a large family of modest means in Varanasi, India, where he completed his bachelor's and master's of education at Banaras Hindu University.

This text was adapted from an obituary published at