University of Texas
Herbert Lester "Herb" Berk
September 29, 1938–November 30. 2021



Herbert Lester Berk


Herb Berk
Herb Berk was born in New York City to Murray and Elsie Berk. He grew up with his sister, Renee and his brother David. He attended the Bronx High School of Science and that sparked his love of Science and Mathematics. The school was not in his neighborhood, necessitating a bus ride and later a train ride. He enjoyed the stiff competition at the high school. His senior picture is at right. He received his undergraduate from NYU and his masters and PhD from Princeton University.

His 1964 dissertation was entitled, " Electrical transport equation for a plasma model." It was directed by Professor Carl R. Oberman.

He met his wife Susan J. Rich in California. They were married in November of 1962 in Los Angeles. Their oldest son Joseph was born in 1967 and their youngest son Adam in 1970. Herb enjoyed fishing, camping, and hiking with the family.

Herb Berk became a tenured professor at the University of Texas Physics Department in 1980.  At his retirement in 2018, he became Professor Emeritus. He spent his career at UT investigating Plasma Physics with the goal of developing an energy source from Nuclear Fusion. In his long career he published over 200 professional papers in his field. Dr. Berk was also the chair of the American Physical Society Committee on International Freedom of Scientists.

Tribute by Boris Breizman, Richard Hazeltine and Francois Waelbroeck."Herb Berk was dedicated to the fusion energy goal. He was also an ardent supporter of international collaboration and a champion of human rights. His early work at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory on mirror machines was influential in focusing the US fusion program. He subsequently became an internationally recognized leader in the nonlinear dynamics of plasma waves interacting with energetic particles.  Because of Herb’s long history of dealing with scientists throughout the international research community, and his consistent interest in minority participation in research, he was asked to lead the Department's participation in the Minority Bridge program of the American Physical Society.  Professor Berk performed this task with skill and tireless dedication. Along with our Department, the entire fusion community will miss Herb Berk."

Herbert Berk is survived by his son Joseph Berk, his daughter-in-law Loretta Berk, his son Adam Berk, his daughter-in-law Pennie Berk, his grandchildren Hannah, Mason, Lauren & Emma. His sister Renee Rocklin and brother David Berk.


The Herbert L. Berk Endowed Graduate Fellowship in Physics 

In 2018, the family of Professor Herb Berk has established the Herbert L. Berk Endowed Graduate Fellowship in Physics to celebrate Dr. Berk’s retirement from the active faculty of the University of Texas Physics Department and honor his long career as a scientist, teacher, and tireless advocate for diversity and excellence in Physics. Dr. Berk joined the University of Texas Physics faculty in 1980 as a founding member of the Institute for Fusion Studies; Dr. Berk would spend his career at UT investigating plasma physics with the goal of developing an energy source from nuclear fusion. He was the editor of the pamphlet the "Pervasive Plasma State," that describes the scope of research areas and technology in plasma research. Dr. Berk has also been a champion for inclusiveness and intellectual liberty, serving as Chair of the American Physical Society’s Committee on International Freedom of Scientists from 2014 to 2015. This endowment will support, in perpetuity, the Department of Physics at the University of Texas at Austin. The Department of Physics has set a goal of raising $200,000 in gifts and pledges for the Berk Fellowship; all pledges in support of this goal may be paid over a five-year window.

 To donate to the Herbert L. Berk Endowed Graduate Fellowship in Physics go to  or make check out to the Herbert L. Berk Graduate Fellowship in Physics and mail to The University of Texas at Austin, P.O. Box 7458, Austin, TX  78713-7458.




Herbert L. Berk, "Frequency and Wavelength Dependent Electrical Transport Equation for a Plasma Model", The Physics of Fluids 7, 257 (1964);


Herbert Lester "Herb" and Susan Rich Berk Photo Album

Berk Family in Catskill Mountains. Herb, front and center. Mother and Father on his left.

David, Murray, Herb, Elsie and Renee Berk.

David, Herb and Renee Berk

Renee and Herb Berk

Murray, Herb and Elsie Berk

Herb, Elsie, David and Renee

Herb Berk, undergraduate, NYU.

Herb Berk, tourist.

Herb and Susan's Wedding, 1962

Herb and Susan Berk

Herb and Susan Berk

Adam, Herb, Susan and Joseph Berk, Texas Bluebonnets.

Herb, coach, Adma and Joseph Berk

Herb Berk and Boris Breizman

Tonya and Boris Breizman, Susan Berk, Dmitri Ryutov, Herb Berk and Margarita Ryutov,, Novosibirsk, Russia

Dmitri Ryutov and Herb Berk Novosibirsk, Russia, 1988

Margarita Ryutov, Herb Berk, Susan Berk, Dmitri Ryutov

Herb, Joseph, Adam

Berk Family

Herb and Adam Berk

Herb and Susan Travels


Herb Berk


Herb and Susan Berk

Herb and Grandkids


Herbert Berk's Zoom Memorial Service, Dec. 5, 2021
Over 100 people were at the Zoom service including colleagues across the world, some have been identified below.

Zoom Screen 1

Zoom Screen 1

Zoom Screen 3

Zoom Screen 4


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