Robert DeHaan

Renowned cell biologist and educator, former MBL faculty and MBL Society Emeritus member Robert DeHaan died on Tuesday, October 29, 2013, in Atlanta, Georgia, after extended complications from pneumonia.

DeHaan was Senior Science Advisor of Educational Studies, and Charles H. Candler Professor of Cell Biology Emeritus, at Emory University.

His renaissance mind and gentle heart suited him well. DeHaan’s quest as a dedicated scientist to understand the base elements of human life was matched by his commitment to teaching creativity and inventiveness in science to the next generations of students.

He received his Ph.D. in Physiology and Embryology from UCLA in 1956. His research career spanned five decades on the faculties of the Carnegie Institution of Washington Department of Embryology, the Johns Hopkins University, and the Emory School of Medicine and College of Arts and Sciences. He authored or edited four books and over 140 research papers and chapters in the fields of cellular science, developmental biology and science education, and trained over 40 graduate students and post-doctoral fellows.

DeHaan was Founding Director (1995-2000) of the Elementary Science Education Partners (ESEP) program, an NSF-supported science education outreach effort which provided professional development and supplied undergraduate student “science partners” from local universities to some 1500 elementary teachers of the Atlanta Public Schools.

He served as Director of the Committee on Undergraduate Science Education (2001-2003) in the Center for Education of the National Research Council/National Academies in Washington, D.C., and was Director of Education Research for the India, China, America Institute in Atlanta (2004-2008).

At Emory, DeHaan was twice named Outstanding Teacher of the Year (1987, 1990); he received the University’s highest faculty accolade, the Thomas Jefferson Award in 1998; and the Distinguished Emeritus Award in 2006. In 1998 he received the First Bruce Alberts Award from the American Society of Cell Biologists for Distinguished Contributions to Science Education; and in 2006 was awarded the Viktor Hamburger Outstanding Educator Prize from the Society for Developmental Biology. He was a Fulbright Scholar (University College, London), a Macy Scholar (University of Paris-South, Orsay, France), and a lifetime Fellow of the AAAS and the American Educational Research Association.

Widowed by his first wife Virginia S. DeHaan, he is survived by his son Benjamin DeHaan of Lucca, Italy; daughter Pippit Carlington and grandson Quinn Carlington of Atlanta. He is survived by his wife of 23 years, Marianne Scharbo-DeHaan, Ph.D., and stepchildren Mark (Carrie) Scharbo, Grant (Gina) Scharbo and Dana (Josh) Lieberman, as well as 10 grandchildren.

A memorial service was held on Sunday, November 10, at 3:00 pm at Cannon Chapel, Emory University.

The family has requested that in lieu of flowers, donations be made in Bob’s memory to either the Virginia DeHaan Lectureship or the Center for Science Education at Emory University, 1762 Clifton Road, Atlanta, Georgia 30322. Online condolences may be made at