Dr. William B. "Chip" Levy

March  28th, 1947 March  29th, 2024
Earlysville, VA
Dr. William B. "Chip" Levy

“The state of mind which enables a man to do work of this kind... is akin to that of the religious worshipper or the lover; the daily effort comes from no deliberate intention or program, but straight from the heart.”

~Albert Einstein


On March 29, 2024, William “Chip” Levy breathed his last breath, succumbing to an aggressive metastatic cancer. Levy was born in St. Louis Missouri on March 28, 1947, oldest son of Lester H. Levy and Ina Mae (Aronberg) Levy. He earned his B.A. in Psychology from Princeton University in 1969 and swam on the varsity swim team. He earned his Ph.D. at the University of California, Irvine, School of Biological Sciences in 1973 and then served as a research fellow in the Department of Psychology at Harvard until 1974. Subsequently, he dedicated over 46 years of his life doing research and teaching at University of Virginia as a professor of neurosurgery. Levy was so deeply committed to his pursuit of knowledge and sharing it that he continued to work right up to the last day of his life.

Dr. Levy’s academic pursuits centered on understanding the neural mechanisms of cognition, including synaptic plasticity, computational theories of brain function, and constraint-based interpretations of neural information processing. The International Neural Network Society honored him with the prestigious Hebb Award and his groundbreaking research has left an indelible mark on the field of neuroscience. 

"Chip was the most single-minded scientist that I've ever known and probably the broadest thinker. He was intellectually honest, kind, and generous without any agenda beyond learning as much as he could about the brain," wrote Dr. Costa Colbert, a former Ph.D. student and a cherished friend who spent many transformative years studying under and collaborating with Levy. 

Another long time collaborator Dr. Robert Baxter, shared a relationship spanning over 35 years, a testament to their enduring professional partnership and deep-rooted friendship. "I treasure the time we spent poring over new (and old) neuroscience research articles, discussing how energy consumption plays a significant role in brain development and function, and investigating how computation and communication are accomplished in the brain," wrote Baxter. 

Also of note in Chip’s life was his longtime partner and collaborator Nancy Desmond, Ph. D., who spent many years living and collaborating with him. 

Profound admiration for Levy's unwavering dedication to unraveling the complexities of the brain is echoed by his peers and colleagues. His impact as a researcher, mentor, and individual of strength and dedication continues to resonate within the scientific community, inspiring future generations to delve deeper into the mysteries of neuroscience. Reflecting on his remarkable life and enduring legacy, we are reminded of his immeasurable contributions and the profound impact he has had on all who had the privilege of knowing him. He will be missed by loved ones, friends, colleagues, students, and support staff alike. He had a giving heart and was gracious to others. When not pursuing his academic activities he could be found playing with his dogs, hiking in the woods, or tinkering with his classic and race cars. His last dog was aptly named Darwin. He will be missed.

Although Levy’s loving wife Nancy Jane Levy died in 2010, Levy is survived by his devoted brother, Thomas Charles Levy. 

A memorial to honor Professor Levy will be held on Saturday, May 4 at the Colonnade Club of UVA from 11:30am - 1:30pm. Friends, family, and colleagues are welcome. Information included below. 

revised 4/18/24


Memory wall

Post your condolences or share your Memories.

May 14, 2024
Tom and Gale have fond memories of our longtime neighbor. Had beer and watched Nascar.
Gale Chapman
May 14, 2024
So sorry to hear this news. Chip was a remarkable human being. His dedication to his chosen academic fields was amazing. He will be missed. With sympathy, David Sloan
David Sloan
May 14, 2024
Thank you Professor Levy for everything you did. You were one of the best mentors I could ever have. My love for neuroscience was sparked by you, and I'm always in awe of how much knowledge you hold. I hope to be a researcher as dedicated and committed as you are someday. I will always remember the lessons you have taught me about school and life. Thank you.
Jayati Maram
May 4, 2024
I met Chip in 1973 when he was a postdoc in Dick Thompson's lab. His passion for science and his curiosity were evident then and clearly persisted throughout his research career. I enjoyed doing "wet" science with Chip, buoyed by his enthusiasm when the experiments would fail as they sometimes do. I will remember Chip for the many fledging scientists who worked and studied with him. He gave them a great start. As Alan Bard, the father of modern electrochemistry, said on his receipt of the Priestley Award: "through your students you maintain a presence in future generations, and they go on and on and on.”
Nancy Desmond
May 4, 2024
Professor Levy was so valuable to me as an undergrad working in his lab at UVa. Absolutely the most impactful academic experience I had there. I'm saddened to hear that he is no longer able to share his passion and knowledge directly, but I know that those he shared with will continue to share with others. The flame of curiosity, investigation and research still burns because it is carried and passed on by people like Chip.
Jordan Wade
May 4, 2024
I worked with Chip many years ago, and often found him in my office or vice-versa. After a brief hiatus where our research areas diverged, we reconnected about two years back and started working together again, through multiple proposals and a planned publication. Even through his final days, he was working tirelessly. Scholars with his dedication are rare these days. I will dearly miss his dry humor, passion and spectacular brilliance. RIP Chip.
Avik Ghosh
May 4, 2024
Fondly remember our collaboration on the NSF BRAID proposal. This has been a tough year for me. Lost my mother in January. Rest in peace Chip.
Supriyo Bandyopadhyay
May 4, 2024
I remember the pleasure my father, Toby Berger, took from his academic collaboration with Chip and his friendship with Chip. They enjoyed crossing over into each other's fields (dad into neuroscience, Chip into information theory) and made some worthy discoveries across those borders. And they seemed to laugh a lot while doing it. Chip's memory will be a blessing.
Larry Berber
May 4, 2024
Dear Chip, I was sorry to learn that you had lost your battle with cancer. You were a kind and friendly neighbor. I loved seeing you cruise by my house in your snazzy convertible. May you now rest in peace.
Charlotte Morris
May 4, 2024
Thank you Chip for working up until the last day your life. Your dedication and contributions to science will surely benefit future generations. We will miss you and Darwin on the road. Give that magnificent brain a little rest now....you've earned it.
Maureen Chrystal
May 4, 2024
It will be impossible to forget Chip. His presence walking on Panorama Road was always a constant. The slight nod. A wave, if you were lucky. A faint smile, if he was feeling moved. Always adorned in the same hat and coat. Never in a hurry. Forever letting the fresh air fuel him. I enjoyed our conversations and feel grateful to have known such a mighty mind.
Margaret Bloom
May 4, 2024
Dr. Levy shared his passion for neural network models with a small group of young engineering students for over a decade--helping to shape their careers and welcoming several to his lab as undergraduate researchers. He will be missed!
Kitter Bishop
April 23, 2024
Chip contacted me in February wanting to talk math - the math of brain function. We talked twice on Zoom. His dedication to his research was so strong in the face of obvious pain from his cancer.
Ira Herbst


Please Note: There is no parking at the Colonnade Club. Guest parking is available at the Central Grounds Parking Garage at 400 Emmet Street. Hourly parking may be paid via the Park Mobile app at https://parking.virginia.edu/parkmobile or machines located on garage level 2 and 3 accept credit cards. (Guests must know their license plate number to register and pay) We suggest arriving 30 minutes early to park and find your way to the venue. Parking attendants will be onsite and available. Campus map and walking directions link below. 

VIEWING LIVE STREAM: Note link below. Passcode (for virtual event viewing): levy
RECORDING: The recording will be available after the memorial service. Please check back for the link. 
Colonnade Club, UVA
May 4, 11:30am-1:30pm ET
Virtual event


In lieu of flowers, we invite you to contribute to one of the important organizations listed below. Your generous donation will serve as a meaningful tribute, perpetuating the spirit of Dr. Levy / Chip. Together, let us continue the legacy of wisdom, compassion, and kindness that Dr. Levy / Chip embodied throughout his life.

• Hospice of the Piedmont: https://hopva.org/hospice-house/

• Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center: https://www.mskcc.org

• Charlottesville Albemarle SPCA : https://caspca.org  


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