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Robert Katz was born in 1917 in New York City of Russian- Jewish immigrant parents. He grew up in the Bronx, attended Brooklyn College where he received his B.A. degree in 1937. A year later he was awarded the M.A. degree in physics at Columbia University. During World War II he worked for the Air Force at Wright Field in Ohio. After the war he returned to academia as a graduate student at the University of Illinois, where he earned the Ph.D. degree in physics in 1949. From that year he was a member of the Department of Physics at Kansas State University in Manhattan, Kansas, until 1966 when he joined the faculty at the University of Nebraska.
Anyone who knows Bob Katz knows that he is not one to be reticent in discussing his own work. One may even get the impression that he has exaggerated his achievements on one or two occasions. But when one examines the work of this talented and multi- faceted man, a solid record of accomplishments emerges. Nor are these all in a single field. Few people have brought a knowledge of physics to bear on so many areas of application, and not many have collaborated as effectively with colleagues in so many disciplines outside their own.