small logo In Memoriam:

Dr. Robert "Sam" Lightfoot
1956 - Feb. 19, 2016

It saddens The SETI League to report the death on 19 Feb. 2016 of our friend and colleague Sam Lightfoot, after a prolonged illness.

Robert “Sam” Lightfoot, 60, was an anthropologist, criminologist, and associate professor at South Georgia State College. He received his Ph.D. in Criminal Justice from Florida State University in 2007. An active researcher in the fields of sociology and criminal justice, he performed research on solar and extra-solar exploration and social consequences as a necessary area in our preparation for Contact.

As a research and consulting archaeologist, Sam's major focus was on European contact with native cultures. Focusing on the typically extreme casualty rates during early 16th century attempts by the Spanish to form colonies in the Americas, Lightfoot noted, “If we go to Mars, Jupiter, or Saturn, we better make sure we have everything in order. This includes who's in charge, making sure there are enough supplies, and other necessary things.”

Sam was active in popularizing science to the general public, and was a regular participant at Chattanooga’s LibertyCon science fiction convention, where he contributed to science outreach panels. In addition to his classroom pursuits, Dr. Lightfoot participated in archaeological digs, spoke a number of foreign languages, including a little Navajo, and taught and practiced martial arts, including Judo, Jujitsu, and (in his Society for Creative Acronisms persona as Lord Ernst von Nuremberg), European swordfighting.

Sam may be best remembered for his participation in the first three Tennessee Valley Interstellar Workshops, where he collaborated closely with a number of SETI League members. His death came just one week before the opening of the fourth TVIW, in which he was scheduled to participate.

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