1947 to early 1960

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Note on the Development of the Florida State University Department of Physics, 1946-1966

The Department of Physics at Florida State University has experienced a period of tremendous growth in size and stature in the past few years. The change is unequaled by any other Physics Department in the Southeast in a comparable time period. Our department has grown from one of an undergraduate teaching faculty of four in 1946 to a research oriented department of 26 faculty, 9 research associates and 93 graduate students at present.

The development has progressed in three fairly well defined stages. The first occupied a period form 1949 to the mid-1950's during which the graduate program underwent the embryonic stages. The first M.S. degree was granted in 1949 and the first Ph.D. in 1955. Significant researches in these early years were the x-ray work of Professors Schwarz and Rogosa and the theoretical work of M. A. Melvin and A. E. S. Green.

In 1957 the Florida legislature appropriated funds for the purchase of a Model EN Tandem Van de Graaff accelerator and a nuclear research laboratory to house the machine, the research laboratories and the supporting facilities. Research operation of the accelerator commenced in April 1960 and since 1961 machine time has been scheduled on a round-the-clock basis. In 1960, Drs. N. P. Heydenburg and G. M. Temmer, already well known for the work in nuclear physics at the Carnegie Institution, came to Florida State to direct the low energy nuclear physics program. Under their direction and that of Professor R. H. Davis, the program has developed to one of national standing in a very few years. In 1964, the work of Dr. R. K. Sheline and again in 1965, the work of Drs. J. D. Fox and D. Robson was cited by the American Institute of Physics as among the most important developments in nuclear physics during those two years. The excellence of the nuclear physics program has brought two topical conferences to the FSU campus: the "International Conference on the Nuclear Optical Model" in March, 1959, and the "Conference on Isobaric Spin in Nuclear Physics" in March, 1966.

During the same period a second research group to develop was the high energy and elementary particle physics group under the direction of J. E. Lannutti.

The third period of development is the creation and strengthening of other research interests within the department and was triggered by the appointment of Dr. E. K. Plyler as head of the Physics Department in 1962. In the past two years, five professors in fields other than nuclear physics have been added to give a breadth to the department. The areas being developed are solid state and thin film physics, infrared physics and molecular structure. The addition of a number of faculty in various branches of theoretical physics is planned in the near future.

The physics department now has excellent facilities in its new research building, which is devoted exclusively to graduate work and faculty research. During the past two years, $353,000 has been spent on general purpose research equipment in addition to research grants which total about $825,000 per year. It is our intention to continue this development toward a really strong department of physics at Florida State Anniversary.

Neil R. Fletcher
Assistant Professor of Physics
April 20, 1966
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