Remembering Frederick Seitz
March 4, 2008
We regret to announce the passing of Dr. Frederick Seitz on March 2, 2008. Frederick Seitz was born in San Francisco on Independence Day, 1911. He earned his bachelor?s degree from Stanford University in 1932 and his doctorate in physics at Princeton University in 1934. He taught physics at the University of Rochester (1935-1937), the University of Pennsylvania (1939-1942), and at Carnegie Institute of Technology (1942-1949) before going to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champagne in 1949, where he had a long association with the Physics Department and the Materials Research Laboratory. Professor Seitz became the Physics Department Head in 1957, remaining in that position until 1964. He served as Dean of the Graduate College and Vice-Chancellor for Research at Illinois until 1965 and contributed substantially the understanding of quantum mechanics, properties of solids, and radiation effects.
In 1962, Dr. Seitz became the first full time President of the National Academy of Sciences, which position he held until 1969. From 1968 until his retirement in 1978, he served as President of Rockefeller University. With Drs. Robert Jastrow and William Nierenberg, Dr. Seitz founded the George C. Marshall Institute in 1984 to conduct assessments of scientific issues affecting public policy. He was an influential figure in the public debates on climate change and defense issues.
During his long career, Dr. Seitz served on numerous governmental and academic committees, including the President?s Science Advisory Committee, the Defense Science Board and the policy advisory board of the Argonne National Laboratory. He advised a wide range of institutions including the Library of Congress, the Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, the National Cancer Advisory Board, and the Office of Strategic Defense Initiative. Dr. Seitz?s awards include the Franklin Medal (Franklin Institute), the Hoover Medal, the Distinguished Public Service Award (NASA), the Compton Award (American Institute of Physics), the National Medal of Science, the James Madison Award (Princeton University), the Vannevar Bush Award (National Science Foundation), and the Loveland Memorial Award (American College of Physicians) and he received honorary degrees from thirty-four American and foreign universities and colleges.
His books include The Modern Theory of Solids; Solid State Physics (with Donald Turnbull); The Science Matrix; Stalin's Captive: Nikolaus Riehl and the Soviet Race for the Bomb (with Nikolaus Riehl); Electronic Genie: The Tangled History of Silicon (with Norman Einspruch); A Selection of Highlights from the History of the National Academy of Sciences 1863-2005; and his autobiography On the Frontier ? My Life in Science.