Researchers at RIT are reflecting on the life of theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking.

Hawking died Wednesday at the age of 76. Hawking, a renown theoretical physicist, is best known for his bestselling book “A Brief History of Time.”

Manuela Campanelli, a RIT professor and the director of the Center for Computational Relativity and Gravitation, says Hawking’s contributions were key to helping us understand how the universe works.

She says his books, like “A Brief History of Time,” helped inspired a generation of scientists.

Campanelli tells News 8, “It’s very sad, not only because he is a great scientist and a great mind, but it’s very sad for the entire planet, because Hawking was really known to the general public. As a kid, I read his books and they inspired me. So many of us are today physicists thanks to the inspiration Hawking provided.”

Hawking was diagnosed with ALS at the age of 21 but managed to live 55 years with the illness which is often fatal.