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Professor James L. Dewald Dies

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James L. Dewald, who joined the University of Houston’s physics department this semester as a visiting assistant professor, has been killed.

According to the Houston Police Department, Dewald was stabbed to death early Friday morning. His wife, Kristen Dewald, has been charged with murder.

Dewald, 33, earned his Ph.D. in physics from New Mexico State University (NMSU) this summer. When his NMSU dissertation adviser and research mentor Seamus Curran accepted an offer to come to UH, Dewald was invited to join him here.

“James was an exceptional individual,” professor Curran said. “He was a kind and gentle person as well as a meticulous researcher and scholar. And he was a close friend. My family and I are heartbroken that this has happened. It’s a cliché, but the world really is a poorer place without him in it. James loved physics, but he also enjoyed drawing. He was really into cars, and he was an accomplished rock guitarist.”

Dewald collaborated with Curran on research into solar cell technology, focusing on the use of plastics instead of silicon. Dewald had already published nearly a dozen scholarly articles on this subject and applied for four patents.

“He was clearly on his way to reaching the top of his field,” Curran said.

Dewald was teaching a section of Introduction to General Physics II. That class will now be taught by professor Gemunu Gunaratne.

“Although James was a new member of our staff, his loss deeply saddens all who knew him,” said Lawrence Pinsky, chairman of the physics department. “I am sure the entire campus community shares our sorrow.”

Funeral arrangements are pending.