Mercyhurst mourns the loss of beloved physics professor Carrubba

Rebecca Dunphy, News Editor

This week, Mercyhurst lost a dearly beloved member of the campus community, Simona Carrubba, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Physics. The campus community was notified by Provost Leanne Roberts, Ph.D., on the afternoon of Feb. 6 that Carrubba had passed after a hard fought battle with lung cancer.

Carrubba received an undergraduate degree in physics and doctorate degree in engineering physics from the University of Cantania, Italy. She came to the United States in 2005 as part of a fellowship with Louisiana State University Health Science Center and Medical School where she worked in the biophysics laboratory of Andrew A. Marino, Ph.D. Here she focused on the effects of electromagnetic fields on the detection of neurological disease as the principle investigator in a series of research projects.

She is highly acclaimed for her work in the field, having published more than 25 papers in scientific journals, presenting to international meetings and working alongside government agencies such as Environmental Protection Agency, the Food and Drug Administration and the National Institute of Health.

In 2011, she began as a Assistant Professor of Biophysics with the Department of Natural Science at Daemen College. Beyond teaching, she continued her research at the Department of Neurology at Women and Children Buffalo Hospital and the University of Buffalo, Medical Dental School.

Six years later, in 2011, she joined the Mercyhurst Physics Department where she taught courses in general, medical and environmental physics, as well as biomechanics. She continued her research, having recently presented at the regional American Association of Physics Teachers conference.

As described by Roberts in the campus-wide email, Carrubba cared deeply about her students.

“In her short time at Mercyhurst she attracted many students to the physics major and minor,” said Roberts. “Her distinct and dynamic style, and the sheer excitement for teaching physics was hard to resist.”

This sentiment is echoed by Shawn Titus, senior physics and chemistry major.

“I was fortunate enough to be among some of the first students Dr. Carrubba taught at Mercyhurst. Through her love for physics and her passion for helping students, I quickly became enveloped in the subject and actively engaged as she continued to push us beyond what we thought our limits were,” said Titus. “Were it not for her, I would likely not be a physics major today.”

Senior dance and occupational therapy major, Jessica Skinker, had the opportunity to work with her briefly in a research environment.

“She was very vibrant and passionate about her work and students,” said Skinker. “As someone who never had her for a class, I was treated with the same amount of enthusiasm and excitement as a student she worked with for years. This is a testament to how much she cared about her students and our research.”

Even though her time at Mercyhurst was cut short, Carrubba’s impact on the university was immense.

“Though she was only starting her fourth year at the institution, Dr. Carrubba certainly embodied the spirit of Mercyhurst,” said Roberts. “She recognized that education is the heart of an institution, and that you, the students are the heart of education – on a number of occasions, she could be heard reminding herself and others that what we do as teachers means nothing if we do not make you, the students the center of our classrooms.”

Students, faculty and staff alike feel the impact of this loss.

“Her vibrant presence will be greatly missed and the hallways of Zurn will feel less bright. But in her passing, we can all come together and celebrate her life during the brief few years we had her at Mercyhurst,” Titus said. “I know there is one thing we can all do to keep her memory strong and alive: continue to love physics.”

Carrubba worked in the Physics Department for four years and
touched the lives of countless students, faculty and staff.