Charles H. Townes
1999 Mendel Medal Recipient
Dr. Charles H. Townes, who received the Nobel Prize
in 1964 for his role in the invention of the maser and the
laser, is presently a Professor in the Graduate School at
the University of California, Berkeley, and engaged in a
research in astrophysics. He is known for a variety of
researches involving the interaction of electromagnetic
waves and matter, and also as teacher and government advisor.
Born July 28, 1915 in Greenville, South Carolina,
Dr. Townes graduated with highest honors from Furman University
in 1935, earning a bachelor of science degree in physics
and a bachelor of arts degree in modern languages. He
completed a master's degree at Duke University and in 1939
received the Ph.D. degree at the California Institute of
Technology. He was a staff member of the Bell Telephone
Laboratories 1939-1947, Associate Professor and Professor
at Columbia University 1948-1961, Vice President and
Director of Research at the Institute for Defense Analysis
1959-1961, Provost and Professor of Physics at the Massachusetts
Institute of Technology 1961-1965, and became University
Professor of Physics at the University of California,
Berkeley in 1967.
Dr. Townes's principal scientific work is in
microwave spectroscopy, nuclear and molecular structure,
quantum electronics, radio astronomy, and infrared
astronomy; he is presently most active in the latter
two fields. He has the fundamental patent on masers, and
with A.L.Schawlow, the basic patent on lasers. In addition
to the Nobel Prize, he has received a number of awards
and honors, including membership in the National Academy
of Sciences and in the Royal Society of London, the
National Academy of Sciences' Comstock Prize and the John
J. Carty Medal, the Rumford Premium of the American Academy
of Arts and Sciences, the Stuart Ballentine Medal of the Franklin
Institute (twice), and the C.E.K. Mees Medal of the Optical Society
of America, and the Medal of Honor of the Institute of Electrical
and Electronics Engineers, the Plyler Prize of the American
Physical Society, NASA's Distinguished Public Service Medal,
the Thomas Young Medal and Prize of the Institute of Physics
and the Physical Society (England), the Wilhelm Exner Award
(Austria), the 1979 Niels Bohr International Gold Medal,
membership in the National Inventors Hall of Fame, South
Carolina Hall of Fame, Engineering and Science Hall of Fame,
the National Medal of Science, as well as honorary degrees from
twenty-five colleges and universities.
Mendel Medal Presentation Program, January 23, 1999.
Villanova University, Villanova, Pennsylvania.
Townes, Charles Hard, physics educator; b. Greenville, S.C., July
28, 1915; s. Henry Keith and Ellen Sumter (Hard) T.; m. Frances H. Brown,
May 4, 1941; children: Linda Lewis, Ellen Screven, Carla Keith, Holly
Robinson. B.A., B.S., Furman U., 1935; M.A., Duke U., 1937; PhD., Calif.
Inst. Tech., 1939. Mem. tech. staff Bell Telephone Lab., 1939-47; assoc.
prof. physics Columbia U., 1948-50, prof. physics, 1950-61; exec. dir.
Columbia Radiation Lab., 1950-52, chmn. physics dept., 1952-55; provost
and prof. physics MIT, 1961-66, Inst. prof., 1966-67; v.p., dir. research Inst.
Def. Analyses, Washington, 1959-61; prof. physics U. Calif. Berkeley, 1967-86, 94,
prof. physics emeritus, 1986-94, prof. grad. sch., 1994--; Guggenheim
fellow, 1955-56; Fulbright lectr. U. Paris, 1955-56, U. Tokyo, 1956; dir.
Enrico Fermi Internat. Sch. Physics, 1963; Richtmeyer lectr. Am. Phys. Soc.,
1959; Scott lectr. U. Cambridge, 1963; Centennial lectr. U. Toronto, 1967;
Lincoln lectr., 1972-73, Halley lectr., 1976, Krishnan lectr., 1992, Nishina
lectr., 1992; Weinberg lectr. Oak Ridge (Tenn.) Nat. Lab., 1997, Rajiv
Gandhi lectr., 1997. Henry Norris Russell lectr. Am. Astron. Soc., 1998; dir.
Gen. Motors Corp., 1973-86, Perkin-Elmer Corp., 1966-85; mem. Pres.'s Sci.
Adv. Com., 1966-69, vice chmn., 1967-69; chmn. sci. and tech. adv. com. for
manned space flight NASA, 1964-70; mem. Pres.'s Com. on Sci. and Tech.,
1976; rschr. on nuclear and molecular structure, quantum electronics,
interstellar molecules, radio and infrared astrophysics. Author: (with A.L.
Schawlow) Microwave Spectroscopy, 1955, Making Waves, 1996, How the
Laser Happened. Adventures of a Scientist, 1999 (best book on sci. 1999
Am. Inst. Physics); author, co-editor; Quantum Electronics, 1960, Quantum
Electronics and Coherent Light, 1964; editorial bd. Rev. Sci. Instruments,
1950-52, Phys. Rev., 1951-53, Jour. Molecular Spectroscopy, 1957-60, Procs.
Nat. Acad. Scis., 1978-84, Can. Jour. Physics, 1995--; contbr. articles to sci.
publs.; patentee masers and lasers. Trustee Calif. Inst. Tech., Carnegie Instn.
of Washington, Grad. Theol. Union, Calif. Acad. Scis.; mem. corp. Woods
Hole Oceanographic Instn. Decorated officier Légion d'Honneur (France);
recipient numerous hon. degrees and awards including Nobel prize for
physics, 1964; Stuart Ballantine medal Franklin Inst., 1959, 62; Thomas
Young medal and prize Inst. Physics and Phys. Soc., Eng., 1963; Disting.
Public Service medal NASA, 1969; Wilhelm Exner award Austria, 1970;
Niels Bohr Internat. Gold medal, 1979; Nat. Sci. medal, 1982, Berkeley
citation U. Calif., 1986; Common Wealth award, 1993, ADION medal Obs.
Nice, 1995; Mendel award Villanova U; Frank Annunzio award Christopher
Columbus Fellowship Found., 1999; Rabindranath Tagore Birth Centenary
plaque Asiatic Soc., 1999; named to Nat. Inventors Hall of Fame, 1976,
Engring. and Sci. Hall of Fame, 1983. Fellow IEEE (life, Medal of Honor
1967), Am. Phys. Soc. (pres. 1967, Plyler prize 1977), Optical Soc. Am.
Astron. Soc., Am. Acad. Arts and Scis., Royal Soc. (fgn. mem.), Russian
Acad. Scis. (fgn. mem., Lomonosov medal 2000), Pontifical Acad. Scis.
Max-Planck Inst. for Physics and Astrophysics (fgn. mem.), N.Y. Acad. Scis.
(hon. life); elected to NAE 1998 (founders award 2000). email@example.com.
Office: U. Calif. Dept. Physics 366 Leconte #7200 Berkeley CA 94720-0001
Who's Who in America, 2002,
New Providence, New Jersey.
Marquis Who's Who, 2001, p.5339-5340.
Biography of Charles H. Townes