In memory: Babatunde Ogunnaike | UDaily


After graduating, Dr. Ogunnaike presented each doctoral student he advised with an academic family tree, detailing their academic lineage. It was a valuable gift to help students mark their place in history, even as they pondered their future. Each tree began with the student’s name, followed by Dr. Ogunnaike as advisor, then Dr. Ogunnaike’s advisor, and so on. The list included famous names familiar to mathematicians, physicists and engineers, including Gottfried Leibniz (1646-1716), a German mathematician credited with inventing calculus.

In one UDaily article detailing his 2012 induction into the Nigerian Academy of Engineering, Dr Ogunnaike said if his students only absorbed one lesson from him, he hoped it would be to never stop learning or sharing their knowledge with others.

“Everything you do for yourself is gone when you are gone. What you do for the lives of others forever,” he said.

Dr. Ogunnaike is survived by his wife, Anna, their sons, grandchildren and extended family. The services will be private. To read Dr Ogunnaike’s obituary, visit Dougherty Funeral Homes, where condolences can be left online. The University of Delaware is planning a larger memorial service at a later date that will be open to the public.

The family requests that donations in honor of Dr. Babatunde Ogunnaike be made to the following causes close to his heart: the Babatunde Ogunnaike Global Engineering Student Enrichment Fund; Ife Institute for Advanced Studies; Pancreatic Cancer Action Network or Action Against Hunger (Nigeria).

Remembering Dr. Ogunnaike

Our community has lost a giant…Tunde was a remarkable person and I’m proud that he was my friend for decades. I asked him a few years ago to join a committee I chaired to chart future directions for chemical engineering for national academies. He was a very valuable member of the report committee, and he passed away just before the report was released this year. Tunde’s contributions can be seen in every part of the report. He had a broad and deep knowledge of our field, and his perspective and clear thinking both enhanced forward thinking and limited the growth of bad ideas. His caring spirit and easy collaborative style made him a real pleasure to work with, and his fluid writing style and ability to meet a deadline made him a perfect committee member. Beyond his engineering contributions, Tunde was a remarkable teacher, mentor, and friend. Our community has lost a giant. – Eric Kaler, President of Case Western Reserve University

Dedication to clarity in communication in all its forms… “Tunde’s dedication to clarity of communication in all its forms was incredible and one of the most transformative aspects of my education from him as a PhD student. mentor. It didn’t matter if he was teaching, writing an article, writing an email, or giving a research talk. His work and his science are of no importance if no one can understand them. These lessons are something that will live on as I train my students to do the same. — Marc Birtwistle, Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering, ’08, and Associate Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at Clemson University

He was a shining light in the range of roles he played… “Tunde was a shining light in the range of roles he played, from his speaking and writing to his mentorship and community involvement locally, nationally and internationally. Her warm smile and easy laugh always brightened my day and I enjoyed our conversations about research, education and family. I had the pleasure more recently of collaborating with Tunde on a research project. Katherine (Kat) Wiley, former PhD student. student in my group, was examining how changes in the density of the tissues that surround breast cancer cells regulate the growth or cessation of these cells. Kat had designed a “sponge-like” material to undergo softening and stiffening, inspired by the changes that occur in human tissue after injury and healing. We observed a range of human breast cancer cell responses in this system and immediately thought of asking Tunde for help, given his expertise in modeling complex systems, especially in the context of human health. . He immediately took a broad view and performed analyzes that helped us understand cell responses. I feel honored and privileged to have known and worked with him. – April Kloxin, Thomas and Kipp Gutshall Development Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering

He has been a mentor for generations… “Tunde and I were graduate students together in Wisconsin about 40 years ago, having arrived a semester apart. There were a significant number of students who were already impressive, at least half a dozen of whom were elected to the National Academy of Engineering. Even in this group, however, Tunde stood out for his technical ability, the breadth of his interests, his drive, and most importantly, for just being a wonderful human being. In his postgraduate career, he distinguished himself in many other ways, from the creativity of his research to an exceptional teacher. He may have inherited this talent from his father, who was a school inspector in Nigeria. Even while working in industry at DuPont, he mentored a succession of post-docs and co-authored an encyclopedic textbook that we still use today. He taught the subject at UD as an adjunct professor, and his classroom teaching and ability to encourage and influence students became legendary. Finally, convincing him to permanently move to UD about 20 years ago was a huge blow to our department, and it made us the envy of many of our fellow departments across the country. At UD, he mentored generations of students, many younger colleagues, as well as those not so young, and he always had weighted wisdom and insightful advice to share in his distinctively modest way. This extended to many levels, including UD administrators, national committees and others. Most importantly, he was a dear and warm friend and as good a person as one could hope to meet. – Abraham “Bramie” Lenhoff, Allan P. Colburn Professor of Chemical Engineering

His example will continue to inspire us… “Tunde, a valued colleague, leader of both the profession and our college, and master teacher, guided and inspired us by his example. He often quoted a Nigerian proverb: “If you want to go fast, go alone; if you want to go far, go together,” which he guided us through thick and thin. Although his physical presence will be greatly missed, his example will continue to inspire us as we continue the journey. – Norman Wagner, Unidel Robert L. Pigford Chair in Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering

We were all his students… “Tunde loved African stories and invoked them with deserved pride. One I remember was about the sense of loss a village felt when it lost the towering tree that had stood for generations. His loss is felt today by his colleagues, students and all who knew him. For us, over the years, it quickly became this towering legendary tree. One of my fondest memories is not of Tunde directly, but of the joy he inspired in others. Tunde used to teach a small industry course in statistics, a dry subject for most of us. Students had to collect data for statistical analysis. They did this by measuring fall times in Colburn Lab’s open stairwell of “whirlybirds” made from strips of paper with paper clip weights. No passerby could resist smiling broadly at the sight of adults laughing, clapping and trotting down the stairs like school children to retrieve and restart their devices. Tunde was an active learner long before many of us had ever heard the term. We were all his students and we will always carry his inspiration with us. – Mark Barteau, vice president for research at Texas A&M University

His exemplary mentorship… “Among Tunde’s many talents was the ability to demand, extract, and cultivate greatness from all around him. His students are better scholars and better people because of his influence. To me , Tunde’s impact on my life and career has been transformative, and I strive to reflect his exemplary mentorship in my interactions with each of my own students. Mary McDonald Staehle, PhD in Chemical Engineering. ’10, and Associate Professor and Director of the Undergraduate Program in Biomedical Engineering at Rowan University

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