Joseph Campana, Ph.D.

It is with great sadness that we report the passing of Dr. Joseph Campana, Ph.D. Joe was a member of this group in the early 1980s and served as its co-chair from 1984-1985. Joe was an outstanding scientist who brought great passion to his work. Among his many accomplishments, Joe and his colleagues at the Naval Research Laboratory developed an ion source and mass spectrometer that held the high mass record for singly-charged ions (> 20 kDa) in the early 1980’s, and simultaneously demonstrated that ionic clusters possessed distinct structures (as indicated by “magic numbers”), paving the way for more than a decade of mass spectrometry studies in the field of cluster chemistry at NRL and other laboratories. Those of us who were fortunate to have known and worked with Joe are better for his time with us. He will be missed.

Joseph E. Campana, 1952-2014

Joe earned a B.S. in chemistry from Canisius College in 1974 and a Ph.D. in chemistry from the Pennsylvania State University in 1979. Joe’s thesis studies were focused on the development of negative ion chemical ionization (CI) mass spectrometric (MS) methods for the analysis of volatile metal chelates. He worked with Professors Terence Risby and Peter Jurs, as well as his fellow graduate student Steve Prescott. With help from Al Yergey, they used a BIOSPECT instrument (Research Instruments Corporation), which was one of the first commercial CI MS instruments. Joe then worked as a postdoctoral fellow in Catherine Fenselau’s group at Johns Hopkins University where he expanded his skills and interests to biomedical MS applications. In 1980, Joe was awarded a National Research Council/National Academy of Sciences Associateship to pursue MS studies at the Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) with Dr. Richard Colton.

Joe quickly obtained a permanent position at NRL. He joined an active mass spectrometry group that was initiated by Fred Saalfeld, who was joined by Jim DeCorpo, Jeff Wyatt and Rich Colton, and that was dedicated to applied and basic research. For the former, Joe assisted with projects aimed at Navy challenges in submarine atmosphere control. It is likely that Joe will be remembered primarily for his work to expand the capabilities of MS in the generation and detection of high-mass ions. Joe and the NRL MS group converted a CEC 21-110 double focusing mass spectrometer with an atomic ion spark discharge source and photoplate detection to a secondary ion mass spectrometer (SIMS) instrument with an ion bombardment or sputtering source and electron multiplier detection. With this instrument the group studied cluster ions of alkali halides and in 1981 published the first of several papers reporting the detection of “ultra-high mass” ions (~m/z 20,000) and enhanced stabilities, therefore ion abundances, for cluster sizes corresponding to closed cubic-like structures (“magic number” clusters). In addition, Joe studied fundamental aspects of gas-phase ion chemistry, metastable, collision-induced, and photo-dissociation of ions, and reactions of sputtered species using a VG ZAB-2F instrument. During Joe’s time at NRL, he was very active in the local mass spectrometry group, collaborated with several local colleagues, and is a main character in several, now legendary stories of “social networking” at many scientific conferences.

In 1985, Joe left NRL to be the director of the Environmental Research Center at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas where he developed and applied MS methods to support the environmental protection programs associated with the EPA Superfund Program. There he became interested in and studied new developments in FT-MS, and in 1987, Joe joined the Nicolet Instrument Corporation in Madison, WI. In 1989, Joe assisted with the purchase of Nicolet’s FT-MS business unit by Extrel Corporation, and in 1996 the business was purchased by ThermoQuest Corporation (now Thermo Scientific).

In 1998, Joe made a significant career change motivated by his interest to contribute to and assist more directly the Madison community. Joe established an office to assist small businesses with financial challenges, worked with a non-profit organization to help home buyers with down payments and create more affordable housing, and started a company to provide advice and assistance in many areas, including legal aid, data security, and identity theft. Joe was a licensed private investigator, wrote a book and a newspaper column, and was known in the area as Dr. Privacy.

Those of us who were fortunate to have worked with Joe or to have interacted with him at meetings, will remember him for his intense passion for science, skills in teaching and mentoring young scientists, and his infectious positive attitude and effective approach of performing high-quality scientific research while having a lot of fun.

The Journal of the American Society for Mass Spectrometry has also published an obituary.