Today is Bob's 61st birthday. It's hard to believe a year has passed since we celebrated the release of MILLIKAN SYMPHONY on Innova Recordings. The CD is receiving great reviews and international radio play, and more people are learning about Bob and his rich life. If you haven't already, check it out here! I continue to be incredibly grateful to all of the Supporters who made the CD, and the creation of MILLIKAN SYMPHONY, possible. Here's a video from the CD-Release Concert in Chapel Hill, with Jennifer Curtis performing the 4th movement of the symphony with chamber orchestra.
Bob was notorious for avoiding cameras. I took this picture of him up at the boathouse in the winter of 1999 and its still one of my favorites. I miss him every day. I don't expect that will ever change. Happy Birthday dear brother.
On August 24, 2017, Bob’s 60th birthday, we celebrated the CD-Release of MILLIKAN SYMPHONY! At the event we also made a special public announcement. Here are (transcribed) comments that my brother Brent gave:
“When Bob passed away, we were thinking together as a family, and with people in the Department of Epidemiology at the Gillings School of Global Public Health, about ways to honor his legacy, and also further his work at UNC.”
“One of the things that came very strongly to all of us was that while at the same time Bob had a very brilliant scientific mind and very amazing intellect, he also had an incredible way of working in a very supportive and warm way with people. Whether that was in doing research in breast cancer or in melanoma, or in his other relations here on campus like working with the crew team. When thinking about ways to honor his legacy, that really came to mind.”
“And in that context, the idea came to us of creating an endowment fund: The Robert Craft Millikan Cancer Epidemiology Fund & Award. Our thought was to focus in a way that could really have the most impact, in ways that maybe were the most meaningful for Bob.”
“And in that sense we thought supporting young researchers could be a really good way to do that. Bob had so many amazing relationships with young students, people he worked with, people he mentored, and that really came out after he passed away. There was such an outpouring of appreciation for him. And that really struck us as a way that would make a lot of sense.”
“So working together with Andy Olshan and also Sterling Frierson from the Gillings School, we came up with the idea of having an annual Award that would be given to an outstanding graduate student, who has really done outstanding research, that is working on their dissertation, and where that Award could make an important contribution to their ongoing research, and to their careers.”
We are pleased to announce the first recipient of The Robert C. Millikan Cancer Epidemiology Award: Nicole Niehoff. With an impressive résumé of research, publications, and service, we are grateful to Andy Olshan and the Department of Epidemiology for selecting such an outstanding student. I had the pleasure of meeting Ms. Niehoff last fall at the annual Robert C. Millikan Cancer Epidemiology Seminar when the award was announced.
Nikki, as she is known, is a 4th year cancer epidemiology PhD student who also received her MSPH in Epidemiology at UNC during her first two years in the program. Her Master’s paper was, “Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and postmenopausal breast cancer: an evaluation of effect measure modification by body mass index and weight change”.
She is currently working on her dissertation. Her topic is, “Single and multipollutant air toxics in association with breast cancer risk and telomere length”. In her research she is “examining the impact of hazardous air toxics exposure on breast cancer risk and whether there are certain subgroups of women most susceptible to the effects of those pollutants”.
Congratulations to Ms. Niehoff upon receiving this Award! We wish her all the very best in her career and celebrate her “commitment to further understanding the etiology of breast cancer”.
Premiere performance of “Petals Finding Water” from the CD-Release event, written in celebration of The Robert Craft Millikan Cancer Epidemiology Fund & Award. Jennifer Curtis, Eric Pritchard, violins; Samuel Gold, viola; Jon Lewis, cello.
To give more of a window into Bob and the influence he had on people's lives, I'm inviting a series of guest bloggers from different fields to share their experiences. -Ann Millikan
Bob Millikan was an important member of the Genes, Environment, and Melanoma (GEM) group, an international group of researchers studying the genetic and environmental risk factors for melanoma. He was the principal investigator for the North Carolina Melanoma Study, which entered patients from North Carolina into the larger GEM study. Bob was known as a superb collaborator with an eye toward the greater good. He frequently shared his methodologic expertise and had a strong ability to critique and improve analyses. The GEM group knew Bob in his work role but also on a personal level. We spent time traveling with him to meetings, loved spending recreational time with him, and would like to share some of our pictures of Bob that we treasure.
Denmark: "When Bob visited us in Denmark in 2009, he was very engaged in the Vikings, their ships and way of living and he joked about applying for a "viking citizenship". Had he grown a beard he would have been the prototype of a Viking. An entrepreneur, clever, persistent, strong, handsome - although much, much more gentle and caring.” Elisabeth Thieden, Denmark
Ireland: “Bob spent the 2005-2006 academic year at University College Dublin (Ireland) as a Fulbright Scholar. We visited Bob in Ireland, a place that he loved and felt at home, and got a chance to see this beautiful country.” Nancy Thomas, North Carolina
New Mexico (with Marianne): “Clearly Bob was intrigued by the Native American culture in New Mexico and enjoyed our foray to a Native American cliff dwelling where early Americans lived.”
“Bob had a great love of the outdoors and a fun sense of humor. At the Native American cliff dwelling after climbing a scary ladder up a rock wall, he signaled “peace” to all.”
“Bob is on his way up the canyon at Tent Rocks, along with the rest of the GEM group, to the strange and wonderful “hoodoos” at Tent Rocks in New Mexico.” Marianne Berwick, New Mexico
British Columbia: “Bob had many interests and obligations to keep him in North Carolina, but Whistler was difficult to turn down, so here he is with the GEM team after a hard morning of skiing and an interesting GEM meeting.” Richard Gallagher, British Columbia
To give more of a window into Bob and the influence he had on people's lives, I'm inviting a series of guest bloggers from different fields to share their experiences. Thanks for supporting the Kickstarter!
L-R: Anne Claire Broughton, Jim Dietz, Kitty Stalberg.
I was in an amateur string quartet with Bob starting around 1999. We all had day jobs, but we came together on Saturday afternoons to share our love of music. Our group included Kitty Stalberg on viola, Jim Dietz on cello, Bob on first violin, and me on second violin. When the quartet first formed, I already knew Jim and Kitty but not Bob, and at first I didn’t know what to make of him. With what I later realized was his characteristic wish to be generous and not be the center of attention, Bob would always ask me if I wanted to play first violin. He would repeatedly put the first violin part on my music stand, and I would hand it back to him and ask for the second violin part. For those unfamiliar with string quartet music, the first violin part is usually much more difficult than the second violin part and must be learned and practiced prior to the rehearsal. Bob knew many of the first violin parts of the major string quartets and I did not.
But once we sorted out the fact that Bob needed to play first violin on most quartets (with the exception of popular music such as Beatles songs), we grew to be good friends. Bob and I had similar goofy senses of humor. We especially loved quoting lines from Wallace and Gromit with fake English accents (“You'll be hearing from my solicitor about this!”). One of my all-time favorite memories of Bob was when the four of us participated in the UNC chamber music workshop one week in May. We were fortunate to receive excellent coaching as a group on a Tchaikovsky quartet, which we later performed at Kitty’s church. Meanwhile, in between rehearsals Bob and I amused ourselves by pretending we were in an opera and singing our greetings to each other whenever we crossed paths. Much later, when Bob went to Ireland for a year, he entrusted me with his violin so that it would be played and cared for while he was gone.
Bob’s violin playing was wonderful. He was incredibly expressive, and always eager to grow and improve, both individually and as a group. During the course of the decade-plus that we were together, our quartet explored a lot of repertoire – some briefly and others in depth. We probably spent the most time learning and perfecting Dvorak’s String Quartet No. 12 in F major, Op. 96 (“American”). This piece was fun to play, while challenging us and giving us room to grow. Once we felt we had mastered it well enough to perform it, my friend Bonny hosted a party for us to play the quartet while she served tea and cucumber sandwiches.
Other pieces we spent time rehearsing included various Beethoven quartets, Mozart’s Dissonance and Hunt quartets, the Smetana String Quartet #1 (“From My Life”), Jean Silbelius’ String Quartet #56 (“Voces Intimae”) and Alexander Borodin’s String Quartet #2. We also had a lot of fun with Bob’s friend and neighbor Jennifer Strickland, a clarinetist, learning the wonderful Mozart and Brahms Clarinet Quintets. Our quartet only performed together in public a few times that I can recall (at the chamber music workshop, Kitty’s church, Bonny’s party, and for a friend’s wedding), but we had many satisfying living room rehearsals, followed by the wonderful ritual of the after-rehearsal snack (usually cheese, as befitting Wallace and Gromit fans).
Bob was a very kind man who loved his family and friends deeply. One Christmas he organized a special quartet rehearsal so we could share our music with his parents who were visiting. He was incredibly proud of his sister Ann and her work as a composer, and he gave us each a copy of a CD of her music when it was released. He was very sweet to my husband and small daughter, always asking about them and welcoming them into his home when we had rehearsals there. When I asked him to play violin duets with me at my church one Sunday in the summer, he readily agreed and played enthusiastically and beautifully. And when I studied the first violin part of the Borodin string quartet and finally mastered it, he was delighted to finally have the chance to put the first violin part on my stand and encourage me to play it. I miss him very much.