We are sad to report that Professor Emeritus Melvin S. Finstein, of the
Department of Environmental Sciences, died last week on Thursday, January 26, at the age of
80. Official obituaries are available at:
www.kepnerfuneral.com (includes photo)
Mel became an Assistant Professor at Rutgers specializing in Pollution Microbiology in February 1964. According to a history prepared for the Environmental Science Department's 75th anniversary in 1995, he was the 8th full-time tenure-track faculty member in the program. He was promoted to Associate Professor in July 1967, and Full Professor 5 years later. After serving for over a third of a century, he retired in July 1999.
Mel's teaching regularly included Pollution Microbiology lecture and lab courses as well as Solid Waste Treatment courses for both undergraduate and graduate students. He was the mentor for numerous research students, including 7 who completed Ph.D. degrees, and advisor to many other graduates and undergraduates. He had over 100 scientific publications specializing in nitrification, sanitary microbiology, biofiltration of contaminated gas streams, and especially composting, an area in which he was a world-renowned expert. He was also interested in the proper and improper use of science in public policy decisions, contributing pieces to newspapers, and serving as a technical advisor to citizen groups. After retirement he continued to work in these areas, and also developed an interest in anaerobic digestion of municipal solid waste for energy recovery.
As retirement approached, Mel created a scholarship fund to reward top graduating seniors in Environmental Science, particularly for those considering graduate school. At his request, memorial contributions can be made to Rutgers University, designated for the Finstein Award, c/o Peter Strom, Dept. of Environmental Science, Rutgers University, 14 College Farm Rd., New Brunswick, NJ 08901-8551.
Robert L. Tate III
Professor & Chair, Environmental Sciences