University of Rochester

Harry W. Fulbright, Emeritus Professor of Physics, Dies at 90

June 15, 2009

Harry W. Fulbright, Emeritus Professor of Physics in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Rochester, died May 16th in Rochester after a brief illness. He was 90. Fulbright became an emeritus professor in 1989 after 39 years at the University of Rochester.

"Harry was not only an exceptional scientist, but he brought his 'hands-on' skills to his teaching," says Nick Bigelow, chair of the Department of Physics and Astronomy. "Harry taught the advanced laboratory course for 11 years, which was required for all the department's Bachelor of Science majors. He put tremendous effort into that course, so all the department's graduates in that time benefited from working with such a dedicated experimental physicist."

Fulbright was born in 1918 in Springfield, Missouri. During World War II, he worked on the Manhattan Project at Washington University and Los Alamos. He joined the University faculty in 1950 as an assistant professor, and was promoted to associate and full professorships in 1952 and 1956, respectively. He is perhaps most widely remembered for supervising the rebuilding and modernization of the University's 26-inch cyclotron. Because of his efforts, the University housed one of the most modern cyclotrons used for research for many years.

Fulbright spent his 1956-57 academic year at the Institute for Theoretical Physics in Copenhagen as a Guggenheim and Fulbright Fellow, and the 1974-75 year as Professor Associé at the Université Louis Pasteur in Strasbourg, France. He was also a visiting professor at Punjab University in Chandigarh, India, in 1977, and a visiting lecturer at the University of Leningrad in 1983.

In his later years, Fulbright became more interested in astronomy. In the late 1980s, he helped develop a then-new type of detector for use at the University of Rochester's Mees Observatory in Bristol, NY. Fulbright taught a special projects course after his retirement to help undergraduates continue to develop the detector.

Fulbright is survived by his wife of 64 years, Marion Fulbright of Rochester, NY; niece, Kristen of California; and nephews James and Michael of North Carolina.