ScholarGPS Awards Highly Ranked Scholar Status to Robert Gamache

Robert-Gamache Image by Courtesy
Professor Emeritus Robert Gamache is an expert in theoretical molecular spectroscopy.

By Brooke Coupal

For Robert Gamache, research is more than a career choice – it’s a passion.

“You know the expression, ‘If you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life’?” asks Gamache, who has worked at UMass Lowell for more than 45 years. “That’s been me. I just love what I do.”

A professor emeritus in the Department of Environmental, Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, Gamache was recently recognized as being in the top 0.05% of scholars worldwide by ScholarGPS, a California-based company that analyzes scholarly activity. He received Highly Ranked Scholar status in spectroscopy based on the quality and impact of his research publications, which have been cited more than 35,000 times.

“Prof. Robert Gamache has made exceptional, high-quality contributions to theoretical molecular spectroscopy, significantly impacting the field,” says Noureddine Melikechi, dean of the Kennedy College of Sciences. “This achievement has placed him in the top 0.05% of scholars worldwide, a remarkable accomplishment for any scientist. His outstanding work and commitment to excellence continue to inspire us and the global academic community.”

Gamache’s research has helped advance our understanding of the atmosphere on Earth and other planets. His work focuses on theoretical calculations of line shape parameters of spectral lines, which are produced when molecules emit or absorb electromagnetic radiation at specific wavelengths. When compared with spectroscopic observations, those theoretical calculations lead to a better understanding of the properties of a planet’s atmosphere.

Currently, Gamache is working with NASA to provide the agency with various line shape parameters that will be used to analyze spectra data collected from exoplanets, or planets outside the solar system. His work has previously been used to further knowledge of the atmospheres of Earth, Venus, Mars and Jupiter.

“When a satellite flies around a planet and collects data about its atmosphere, scientists can’t understand what it measured without the calculations that I give them,” Gamache says. “I’m one of the only people that does these calculations.”

Gamache received a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from UMass Dartmouth in 1973. He got his first experience with research during his senior year and never looked back.

“I realized I can’t live without research,” he says.

He went on to get a master’s degree in physics and a Ph.D. in physical chemistry from UMass Amherst before joining the UMass Lowell faculty in 1978. Gamache has held multiple positions within the UMass system, including dean of the UMass School of Marine Sciences and senior vice president for academic affairs in the UMass President’s Office. He retired from teaching at UMass Lowell in 2012 but has remained an active researcher on campus, mentoring dozens of undergraduate, graduate and postdoctoral researchers along the way.

Gamache, who was named to Thomson Reuters’ list of “The World’s Most Influential Scientific Minds” in 2014, says he has no intention of leaving research anytime soon.

“My brain’s not ready to stop,” he says.