Leonid Azaroff, Materials Science Institute Founding Director, Dies

Leonid Azaroff, an internationally known crystallographer and founding director of UConn’s Institute of Materials Science. (UConn File Photo)

Leonid Azaroff, an internationally known crystallographer and founding director of UConn’s Institute of Materials Science. (UConn File Photo)

Leonid (Lee) V. Azaroff, an internationally known crystallographer and founding director of UConn’s Institute of Materials Science, died in Naples, Fla. on July 3. He was 88.

A graduate of Tufts University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Azaroff later affiliated with the faculties of the Armor Research Foundation and the Illinois Institute of Technology. He was a guest physicist at the Brookhaven National Laboratory from 1961 to 1964. In 1965, he was appointed director of UConn’s newly opened Institute of Materials Science, and held the position until he retired from UConn in 1992.

Azaroff was also a faculty member in the physics department, and an expert in X-ray diffraction, in particular X-ray powder diffraction, which he wrote about in his book The Powder Method in X-ray Crystallography (McGraw-Hill, 1958).

He oversaw the development of graduate-level interdisciplinary research programs in polymer science and crystal science, and in 1970 supported the establishment of an x-ray laboratory for the atomic-level definition of biomacromolecules, one of the early such facilities in the country.

Azaroff was the author of more than 60 journal articles, and numerous textbooks and books. Several of the scientific books he authored remain standards in the fields of solid-state physics and X-ray analysis. These books include Electronic Processes in Materials (McGraw-Hill, 1963); Elements of X-ray Diffraction (McGraw-Hill, 1968); X-ray Spectroscopy (McGraw-Hill, 1974); and Introduction to Solids (McGraw-Hill, 1984).

In his retirement, he continued writing and produced a small book titled Physics Over Easy: Breakfasts with Beth and Physics (World Scientific Publishing, 1996), which relates the principal features of physics through easy-to-understand conversations with his wife. Chapter titles include “Breakfast of Hard-boiled Eggs with Inertia” and “Breakfast of Apple-gravity Pancakes.”

Azaroff was the first president of the Connecticut Academy of Sciences and Engineering (CASE); a member of the American Association of the Advancement of Science; Sigma Pi Sigma; Sigma Kappa Xi; Sigma Xi; American Crystallographic Association; American Society of Engineering Education; Mineralogical Society of America (Fellow); American Institute of Metallurgical Mining Engineers (Fellow); American Physical Society (Fellow); and the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (Senior Member).

He received the UConn Alumni Association Distinguished Leadership Award in 1984. Azaroff served as associate director of the Connecticut Economic Development Corp. from 1977 to 1989, and director of Connecticut Innovations Inc. from 1990 to 1992.

He is survived by his wife Beth Sulzer-Azaroff, his sister, three children, two nieces, two grandchildren, a grandniece, and a great-grandniece.