Robert W. Newburgh earned his BS in Chemistry from the University of Iowa in 1949 and his MS (1951) and Ph.D. (1953) degrees in Biochemistry at the University of Wisconsin. Newburgh joined the faculty of Oregon State College in 1953 as a research associate in the Chemistry Department. He became a Professor in 1961. Newburgh was appointed the acting chair of the Biochemistry and Biophysics Department in 1967 and was named chair in 1968; he served as Director of the Science Research Institute from 1971 to 1974. Newburgh was Dean of the Graduate School from 1976-1979. Newburgh officially retired from Oregon State in late 1981 and was awarded emeritus status. Newburgh's research was in the field of developmental and cell biology; he focused on the neural development of a variety of organisms. In 1995, he became the Executive Director of The Protein Society, a position he held until 2003.