University of Rochester

Leonard Mandel Named to New Professorship Honoring Lee Dubridge

February 9, 1994

An endowed chair has been established at the University of Rochester to honor Lee A. DuBridge, former chair of the physics department and dean of arts and science at Rochester, and former president of the California Institute of Technology, who died last month at the age of 92.

Leonard Mandel, professor of physics at the University since 1964, has been named the first DuBridge Professor of Physics and Optics.

"It is certainly most appropriate that the University honor the memory of Lee DuBridge by establishing this chair," said Paul F. Slattery, chair of the Department of Physics and Astronomy. "DuBridge was an exceptional scientist and administrator who began the process that established physics at Rochester as an internationally respected department. He was also one of the visionaries that laid the foundation for the immensely successful partnership between science and government that has enriched this nation for more than half a century."

An expert on nuclear disintegration and on the photoelectric effect, DuBridge was brought to the new River Campus in 1934 by President Rush Rhees as Tracy Hyde Harris Professor of Physics, and chair of the department, posts he held until 1946. After only three months on the job, DuBridge proposed that the University build one of the world's first cyclotrons, which he and Sidney Barnes finished in 1936. Under DuBridge's leadership the University first established its reputation as a world leader in nuclear and particle physics.

DuBridge served as dean of the faculty of arts and science from 1938 to 1942 before taking a leave of absence during World War II to head a new radiation laboratory established at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The laboratory played a decisive role in maintaining radar supremacy for the Allies during the war, and served as the model for the Manhattan Project. After the war DuBridge returned to Rochester for one year before becoming president of Caltech, which flourished during his presidency.

In 1984 the Department of Physics and Astronomy honored DuBridge with a symposium attended by more than 250 physicists and several university presidents in celebration of his 83rd birthday and the 50th anniversary of his arrival in Rochester. Among DuBridge's many honors was membership in the National Academy of Sciences and service as special assistant to President Richard Nixon for science and technology.

Mandel is known internationally for his experiments extending the work of Albert Einstein and Max Planck on the fundamental nature of light, and in particular on its quantum properties. For four decades Mandel has created and performed innovative experiments to understand the behavior of photons and how they interact with atoms. Mandel's group was the first to actually observe certain remarkable features of light predicted by the quantum theory.

"It is especially fitting that the University recognize Len Mandel's extraordinary career by naming him the first DuBridge Professor," said Slattery. "Mandel exemplifies the highest ideals to which any of us can aspire as faculty -- remarkable research productivity sustained over the long haul coupled with great dedication and skill as a teacher."

Mandel has won most of the top honors in his field, including the Frederic Ives Medal and Max Born Award of the Optical Society of America (OSA), the Italian National Research Council's Marconi Medal, and the Thomas Young Medal from the British Institute of Physics. Two years ago Mandel received the University's Award for Graduate Teaching. He is a fellow of the American Physical Society and the OSA and has written more than 275 scientific papers on fundamental properties of light.

Since 1960 Mandel and Professor Emil Wolf have organized a renowned series of international conferences known as the Rochester Conferences on Coherence and Quantum Optics. The two recently finished a new textbook tentatively titled Coherence and Quantum Optics.

Mandel earned his Ph.D. in nuclear physics in 1951 from the University of London, where he also earned undergraduate degrees in mathematics and physics. He was senior lecturer in physics at Imperial College of the University of London for nine years before joining the University in 1964. tr