Robert J. Hardy, 82, retired professor of physics and astronomy, died June 20 in Lincoln.
Hardy was a member of the Nebraska faculty for 39 years, from 1967 to his retirement in 2006.
Born Jan. 26, 1935 in Port Angeles, Washington, Hardy earned a Bachelor of Science degree from Reed College in Portland, Oregon, in 1956, and a doctorate from Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, in 1962. He worked for his thesis adviser, J.A. McIennan for a year at Lehigh University, then joined the Center for Research and Advanced Studies in Mexico City for the next year.
From 1965-67, Hardy worked as a research associate at the University of Oregon before joining the faculty at the University of Nebraska as an assistant professor.
Hardy was promoted to full professor in 1976. He served as the vice chair of physics and astronomy from 1984-89. Hardy spent a sabbatical year (1977-78) at the University of Bristol, England, and the University of California, Los Angeles. He also spent several summers as a visiting scientist at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in Livermore, California.
Hardy’s was a theoretical physicist with a research focus on thermal physics and its applications to study structural, mechanical and transport properties of solids.
In 2000, Hardy participated in the Gordon Conference on Statistical and thermal Physics, which explored how research in physics and physics education can be used to improve the teaching of physics. After teaching for several years, Hardy started writing a book on the subject. With assistance from Christian Binek, professor of physics and astronomy, the book, “Thermodynamics and Statistical Mechanics: An Integrated Approach,” published in 2014.
With his six doctoral students and several colleagues, Hardy developed theories to study thermodynamic properties and applied them to many materials. He also collaborated on the study of shock waves. Hardy’s formulas on the conversion of discrete to continuum properties continue to be cited in the field of shock waves and detonations.
Hardy was author on several papers at meetings of the American Physical Society’s topical group on shock compression of condensed matter. He was also a member and an outstanding referee in the American Physical Society.
Hardy’s students remember him as a patient teacher, wonderful person and brilliant physicist. He served as a mentor and friend who had a lasting impact on his students. He received Nebraska’s university-wide distinguished teaching award in 1979.
In his free time, Hardy enjoyed steam trains, classic cars, wooden boats and history from the Roman era to World War II.
Hardy is survived by wife, Bonnie; daughter, Elizabeth; brother, Gordon; nephew, John; and nieces, Monica and Barbara.