Remembering Peter Franken
University of Arizona, Optical Sciences Center
November 10, 1928 - March 11, 1999
Peter A. Franken, Optical Sciences Center Professor and former director,
died on March 11, 1999 at his home in Tucson, Arizona. He is survived
by his wife, Peg Nash Franken and his children and step-children, Alicia
Delano of Chicago, Lydia Quilter of Colville, Washington, Jessica Franken
of Phoenix, Polly Nash of Tucson, and Patrick Nash of Tucson, by a brother,
Paul Franken of New York City, and by his six grandchildren, Marshall,
Zachary, Julie, Palmer, Katherine, and L. James.
legacy to the Optical Sciences Center includes recruitment of a number
of world-class faculty members including, Harrison Barrett, Eustace Dereniak,
Charles Falco, Hyatt Gibbs, Willis Lamb who is the recipient of the Nobel
Prize for Physics in 1955, H. Angus Macleod, James Palmer, Nasser Peyghambarian,
Dror Sarid, and the Center's present director, James C. Wyant. During
his directorship, Peter expanded the Center's research funding from primarily
Air Force support to include the National Science Foundation and many
At the Optical Sciences Center, Peter will
be remembered for doing his best at whatever he happened to be doing,
and for doing it with enthusiasm, style, and grand enjoyment. We will
also remember him for his talent in bringing out the best in everyone,
for his ability to convince diverse people to work together, for his genuine
interest in each of us. His warmth, his sparkling sense of humor and his
treasure trove of yarns, stories and jokes were the stuff of legend.
He was an accomplished painter, sculptor, jewelry
maker and a gourmet cook. In recent years he developed an interest in
glass as an artistic medium. His designs in stained glass were exhibited
at Las Mananitas Gallery in Tucson in November, 1997. Peter's love of
glass has been appreciated here at the Center where many of his works
hang in our halls, stairways, and offices because Peter ran out of room
for them at home.
Peter Franken was director
of the Optical Sciences Center at the University of Arizona for ten years;
from 1973 to 1983. Since then, he has been a Professor of Optical Sciences,
Physics, and the Arizona Research Laboratory and served as acting director
of the Arizona Research Laboratory from 1983 to 1984.
Prior to coming to the Optical Sciences
Center, Peter was a professor of physics at the University of Michigan,
and both deputy director and acting director of the Advanced Research
Projects Agency (ARPA) at the Department of Defense.
He served as an expert at the Office of Emergency Preparedness, Office
of the U.S. President, as a visiting professor of Physics at Yale University,
as a visiting lecturer in physics at Oxford University and as an instructor
and assistant professor at Stanford University.
In addition to his work at the Optical
Sciences Center, Peter served as chairman of the Defense Science Board
Task Force on Particle Beam Technology in 1982, as chairman of the Laboratory
Advisory Board for Research, Naval Research Advisory Committee from 1976
to 1978, a member of the Executive Panel of the Chief of Naval Operations,
U.S. Navy from 1975 to 1978, as chairman of the Adversary Group on Survivability,
U.S. Air Force from 1975 to 1978, as consultant to the Arms Control and
Disarmament Agency from 1972 to 1975, as chairman of the Joint Council
onQuantum Electronics from 1969 to 1972, as a member of the Advisory Group
on Electron Devices from 1963 to 1976, and as chairman of the National
Academy Advisory Committee to Atomic Physics and JILA of the Bureau of
Standards from 1963 to 1965.
Peter was president of OSA, the Optical
Society of America in 1977, director-at-large from 1967 to 1971 and again
from 1976 to 1978. At the time of his death, he was a foreign member of
the Russian Academy of Engineering Sciences, a fellow of OSA, a fellow
of APS, the American Physical Society, a fellow of SPIE, the International
Society for Optical Engineering ,a fellow of AAAS, the American Association
for the Advancement of Science, a member of the Radiological Society of
North America, and a member of Sigma Xi. Peter's professional prizes and
awards included the American Association of Physics Teachers' Klopsteg
Memorial Lecture Award in 1995, the Richtmeyer Lecturer of the American
Physical Society for 1987, the Optical Society of America, Wood Prize
in 1979, and the American Physical Society Prize in 1967. He was a Fellow
of the Sloan Foundation from 1958 to 1962.
His research interests were many and varied. His most recent projects
included research into drug and explosive detection technology, precision
surface measurements in seismology, detection of asteriod impact flashes
on the moon, disposal of radioactive waste, optical methods for early
detection of breast cancer, the use of high-power lasers in the treatment
of extensive burns, applications of military technology for the control
of locust swarms, and issues of technology transfer with the former Soviet
At the time of his death, Peter was
teaching Physics 102, Introductory Physics I. During the spring 1998 semester,
he taught Physics 101, Physics in the Modern World.
He received his Ph.D. in Physics from Columbia
University in 1952, an MA from Columbia University in 1950 and a BA from
Columbia College in 1948.