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William Frederick Meggers

William Frederick Meggers (July 13, 1888 – November 19, 1966) was an American physicist specialising in spectroscopy.

Born in Clintonville, Wisconsin, he had to combine his early schooling with working on the family farm, but earned a scholarship to Ripon College, receiving a bachelor's degree in Physics in 1910 and working as a research assistant. After a few years at the Carnegie Institute of Technology in Pittsburgh, in 1914 he joined the National Bureau of Standards, and while working there earned his PhD from Johns Hopkins University.

His work in spectrochemistry is generally credited to have sparked interest in the field in the United States, leading to him being dubbed the Dean of American spectroscopists.[1]

In 1947 he received the Frederic Ives Medal. He was awarded the Elliott Cresson Medal in 1953. Since 1970, the Optical Society of America has awarded the William F. Meggers Award for outstanding work in spectroscopy.

In 1965, Dr. Meggers and his wife, Edith R. Meggers, donated their coin and stamp collections to the American Institute of Physics, for the express purpose of establishing a biennial award program for the improvement of physics teaching at the high school level.[2] Awards have been presented since 1994.

The crater Meggers on the Moon is named in his honor.

His daughter and oldest child is Betty J. Meggers, who also received her doctorate and became a noted archeologist at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington DC, specializing in South American pre-Columbian archeology. He also had two sons, William F. Meggers Jr. (1924-2000) and John C. Meggers (1928-1966).


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External links

  • National Academy of Sciences Biographical Memoir
  • American Institute of Physics Meggers Project Award
  • Arcs and Sparks January, 1967 article

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