Dressed casually in tan slacks, white oxford dress shirt and loosened tie, Rath, the Associate Director of Research for Materials Science and Component Technology at the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory, looks just like what he is and has been – a highly regarded professor, scientist, researcher, patent developer and expert in the field of materials science and engineering.
The walls of his office are literally covered with mementos of a rich career that has taken him to every continent on the planet except Antarctica. Look around and you’ll see diplomas from the Illinois Institute of Technology, Michigan Tech University, countless honorary degrees, photos with secretaries of defense and state, photos with other science and research luminaries and a photo with President George W. Bush. Look further and there’s even a certificate acknowledging a knighthood (equivalent honor) bestowed upon him by the president of India.
A wall-to-wall bookshelf behind his desk, overflowing with books, papers and other research material, looms behind the doctor like a tidal wave ready to engulf a surfer. You can’t help but think it’d be a treasure trove for eager PhD candidates to peruse.
Reminding himself of an international phone call he must take later that morning, this is not the picture of a man preparing to retire.
With slightly graying hair, an animated and lively conversational style, and a face that belies his 82 years, one can’t help but imagine him leading researchers in his department for another decade.
But as late summer eases into fall, Rath is in the last few days of what can best be described as a brilliant career.
Dr. Rath retired Sept. 2. A ceremony celebrating his four decades of research at NRL was held Sept. 12. On this summer morning in August though, he took a few minutes to reminisce about his life and a career where he led nearly 1,000 researchers here at NRL in various capacities, had more than 300 papers published, edited or co-edited nearly 30 books and proceedings and became a member or leader in over 10 professional or scientific societies … the list goes on.