Aaron Douglas Rogat, 44, loving father, husband, son and brother, passed away on April 9, 2017 at 9:00 am. He will forever be in our hearts and memories. Aaron was born in Des Moines, Iowa, on November 27, 1972, the son of Carl and the late Carol Rogat. Aaron so appreciated life and the power of family. Living in the midwest influenced his love of large lakes, stars, and fireflies. He was always inquisitive and in awe of the inspiring beauty of nature, and had several collections, including those of rocks and plants. He had an appreciation of architecture and enjoyed creating art as a child.
From a very early age, Aaron had a keen interest in biology. He followed his love of science and received a bachelor's degree in biology from the University of Oregon in 1995. Aaron continued with his studies and received a doctoral degree in molecular cell biology from the Washington University of St. Louis in 2002. In the last year of his doctoral studies Aaron was diagnosed with a brain tumor. Despite undergoing brain surgery and starting chemotherapy, he persisted in completing and successfully defending his dissertation.
Having completed his doctoral studies, Aaron became deeply interested in conducting research in science education, which led him to a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. One of Aaron's greatest strengths was being an innovative thinker. Over the next decade, Aaron contributed to science education research, policy, and practice. He served as a research scientist from 2006 -2011 for the Consortium for Policy Research in Education (CPRE) at the University of Pennsylvania and Columbia University where he worked on science education policy issues of state and national importance. He then joined the Educational Testing Service (ETS) as a research scientist, where he contributed to the research and development of the science assessments for the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), often called the "Nation's Report Card." NAEP is the largest nationally representative assessment in the United States. In 2014, Aaron joined Purdue University as a research associate in the College of Education, where he continued to be active in supporting science education, especially focused on the potential for technology to inspire science learning. In early 2017, he was a finalist for a grant from the U.S. Department of Education to develop instructionally supportive computer-based assessments to help students learn new and challenging biology emphasized in the new national science education standards. Ultimately, Aaron was passionate about integrating his love of biology and science education research to improve children's understanding of science in K-12 classrooms. He made wide-ranging contributions to science education in the areas of curriculum design, teacher professional development, and assessment development. Aaron was deeply committed to his career, even working through his final months.
While pursuing his dreams at the University of Michigan, Aaron met the love of his life, Toni Kempler. After dating and finishing their studies in Ann Arbor, Toni and Aaron relocated to the East Coast, got married and started a family. Their daughter, Sara, was born in 2009.
Alongside Aaron's dedication to his work, he spent a lot of time with his family. During this treasured time, he enjoyed, first and foremost, playing with his daughter, Sara- running around, kicking the soccer ball at the park, listening to her singing and reading, and sharing with her his love of science. He loved vacations, ranging from trips to Paris, St. Martin's, and the waterfront, as well as vacations to visit his family on the West Coast and Maryland . Locally, he also enjoyed trying new restaurants and watching movies with Toni.
Aaron was a great lover of nature, especially Oregon's natural beauty and lush green forests. Some of his favorite places included Cannon Beach on the Oregon Coast, the Gorge and Multnomah Falls in Portland, and more locally, the Celery Bog, which he enjoyed even during the final week of his life with his visiting sister, Sheryl.
Although Aaron never allowed his disease to define his life, a key part of who he was concerned his courageous 15-year battle with a brain tumor. In spite of overwhelming odds, he continued to engage in life. Aaron always worked to stay at the cutting edge of cancer research, seeking advice only from the top experts in the field regarding treatment options, and striving to buy as much time as possible as new options would became available.
If you were to ask Aaron what he was most proud of, it would be his daughter and being married to the love of his life. What is most certain is that Aaron left us way too soon, but his memory will be eternal to family and friends.
Aaron was the beloved husband of Toni Kempler Rogat, loving father of Sara Alyssa, devoted son of Carl Rogat and the late Carol (Kram) Rogat of Portland, Oregon; beloved brother of Jonathan Rogat of Portland, Oregon, and Sheryl Rogat (husband: Wayne Garcia) of San Francisco, California, and brother-in-law of Avi and Adria Kempler of Annandale, Virginia; beloved uncle of Lillian and Emmeline Kempler. Loving son-in-law to Diane Kempler and the late Aaron Kempler.