A leading authority on the Big Bang model of the formation of the universe, Schramm played a major role in merging the fields of particle physics, nuclear physics, and astrophysics in the study of the early universe. He calculated the number of families of elementary particles in the universe and led the way in predicting that dark matter-as opposed to ordinary matter-comprises most of the universe.
"David was larger than life in many ways," said physicist Stephen Hawking. "His death is a great loss to physics, his friends, and the Aspen Center for Physics."
Schramm chaired the Aspen Center for Physics for five years, and had also been on the boards of Fermilab and the Astrophysical Research Consortium. A member of the National Academy of Sciences, Schramm wrote or cowrote more than 350 scientific papers and 15 books.
ìDave was one of the giants of modern cosmology and a towering figure in astrophysics," said Michael Turner, chair of the U of C's astronomy and astrophysics department.
Born on October 25, 1945, in St. Louis, Schramm received his B.S. and M.A. in physics from MIT, and a Ph.D. in physics from Caltech. A Greco-Roman wrestler, Schramm was a finalist in the 1968 Olympic trials. He joined the University of Texas at Austin in 1972, moving to the U of C and the Enrico Fermi Institute two years later. In 1994, he received the U of C's faculty award for excellence in graduate teaching.
He is survived by his wife, Judith; sons D. Brett and D. Cary; stepson Eric; stepdaughters Tegan, Laura, and Amanda; his mother, Betty; and brothers Daniel and Wayne.