Dr. Robert Dehaan

November 18, 1930October 29, 2013

Renowned cell biologist and educator, Robert DeHaan died on Tuesday, October 29, in Atlanta, Georgia, after extended complications from pneumonia.

DeHaan was Senior Science Advisor of Educational Studies, and Charles H. Candler Professor of Cell Biology Emeritus, at Emory University.

His renaissance mind and gentle heart suited him well. DeHaan’s quest as a dedicated scientist to understand the base elements of human life was matched by his commitment to teaching creativity and inventiveness in science to the next generations of students.

He received his Ph.D. in Physiology and Embryology from UCLA in 1956. His research career spanned five decades on the faculties of the Carnegie Institution of Washington Department of Embryology, the Johns Hopkins University, and the Emory School of Medicine and College of Arts and Sciences. He authored or edited four books and over 140 research papers and chapters in the fields of cellular science, developmental biology and science education, and trained over 40 graduate students and post-doctoral fellows.

DeHaan was Founding Director (1995-2000) of the Elementary Science Education Partners (ESEP) program, an NSF-supported science education outreach effort which provided professional development and supplied undergraduate student "science partners" from local universities to some 1500 elementary teachers of the Atlanta Public Schools.

He served as Director of the Committee on Undergraduate Science Education (2001-2003) in the Center for Education of the National Research Council/National Academies in Washington, D.C., and was Director of Education Research for the India, China, America Institute in Atlanta (2004-2008).

At Emory, DeHaan was twice named Outstanding Teacher of the Year (1987, 1990); he received the University’s highest faculty accolade, the Thomas Jefferson Award in 1998; and the Distinguished Emeritus Award in 2006. In 1998 he received the First Bruce Alberts Award from the American Society of Cell Biologists for Distinguished Contributions to Science Education; and in 2006 was awarded the Viktor Hamburger Outstanding Educator Prize from the Society for Developmental Biology. He was a Fulbright Scholar (University College, London), a Macy Scholar (University of Paris-South, Orsay, France), and a lifetime Fellow of the AAAS and the American Educational Research Association.

Widowed by his first wife Virginia S. DeHaan, he is survived by his son Benjamin DeHaan of Lucca, Italy; daughter Pippit Carlington and grandson Quinn Carlington of Atlanta. He is survived by his wife of 23 years, Marianne Scharbo-DeHaan, Ph.D., and stepchildren Mark (Carrie) Scharbo, Grant (Gina) Scharbo and Dana (Josh) Lieberman, as well as 10 grandchildren.

A memorial service will be held on Sunday, November 10, at 3:00 pm at Cannon Chapel, Emory University.

The family has requested that in lieu of flowers, donations be made in Bob’s memory to either the Virginia DeHaan Lectureship or the Center for Science Education at Emory University, 1762 Clifton Road, Atlanta, Georgia 30322. Online condolences may be made at


  • Memorial Service Sunday, November 10, 2013

Dr. Robert Dehaan

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Richard Nathan

January 2, 2014

Cathy and I extend our condolences to Bob's family. Bob was a friend and mentor to me. I joined him as a postdoc in his lab in 1973 and left for my first faculty position in 1976. He taught me the techniques I would use in my research, but more importantly, how to work with others and become a respected scientist. I am thankful for his guidance.

irene rev.21:4

November 25, 2013

May God bless you and your family in this time of sorrow.

irene rev.21:4,5

November 25, 2013

May God bless you and your family in this time of sorrow.

November 22, 2013

When APPLE Corps was around working with Atlanta Public Schools, Bob's work with schools and science projects was part of our landscape and grassroots philosophy. It was a pleasure to collaborate with him.

And these past couple of years he was a welcome passerby at my bus stop for some words and family updates. He shall be missed by lots of us who came in contact with him over the years.
MaryAnne Gaunt

November 12, 2013

May the family be comforted by Psalms 102:17.

Venkat Narayan

November 10, 2013

It is hard to imagine that Bob is gone. I spent a lot of time with him when we organized a conference on Education for Innovation, and published the proceedings as a book. We spent hours every week meeting at coffee shops, discussing, debating, arguing and exploring. I really learnt a lot from him - he was ever so gentlemanly, always curious, and knew how to get the impossible done. Above all, he was the height of humanity and decency, and even when angry (which was rare), he knew how to conduct himself with finesse. After attending Bob's memorial today, I feel a deep sense of void - it is real that he is gone. But Bob you have many of us, and you will always remain in our memories. Thank you, Bob, and farewell. - Venkat

November 9, 2013

I have fond memories of working with Dr. DeHaan as he implemented ESEP in the Atlanta Public Elementary Schools. His dedication to improving science pedagogy in the elementary schools and his passion for kindling a love of science in the children made our relationship a joy. My sincerest condolences to his family.
Joan Zion, Retired Assistant Superintendent for Elementary Education, Atlanta Public Schools.

November 7, 2013

my deepest condolences to the family, may you gain strength from God.

G. Freeman

November 7, 2013

As the days and weeks pass, and as you return to life's routine, may you continue to feel comforted by the love and support of family and friends.


November 7, 2013

Please accept my condolences regarding the passing of Robert DeHaan. He clearly had an interest in educating others. May all those who loved and cared for him have hope toward God, as you deal with your loss. Act 24:15