September 4, 2012,
Volume 59, No. 02
Dr. Ajzenberg-Selove, Physics
Dr. Fay Ajzenberg-Selove, emeritus professor of physics, died on August 8 at home at age 86. She was best known in the physics community for the publication of a series of review articles on the energy levels of the light nuclei that codified the field of nuclear structure and have broad implications for diverse fields, from the origins of the universe to medicine.
In a world where there remains a dearth of women in physical science, Dr. Ajzenberg-Selove was a pioneer. She was Haverford College’s first tenured woman faculty, and the second within the School of Arts & Sciences at the University of Pennsylvania. She taught generations of undergraduates from Smith College, 1952-1953, Boston University, 1953-1957, Haverford College, 1957-1970 and Penn, 1973-2003. She also had been a role model for women students throughout the physical sciences. Her lifelong service to her country in research and education was recognized with the 2007 National Medal of Science, a Presidential award, (Almanac September 9, 2008).
She was born in Berlin, Germany; following the Great Depression, her family departed for France where they lived for ten years until the start of World War II. They began a circuitous journey through Europe, to Cuba (transiting through New York) and finally back to New York, qualifying to enter the US under the German immigration quota. Settling in New York City with her family, she attended Julia Richman High School and graduated in June 1943. She attended the University of Michigan and began to study engineering, as the only woman in a class of 100. She was drawn toward physics and graduated in 1946 with a BS in engineering (physics). Following an unsuccessful year of physics at Columbia and a brief teaching job in Chicago at the Navy Pier branch of the University of Illinois, she was accepted in the physics graduate program at the University of Wisconsin.
At Wisconsin, she went about becoming a physicist, a rare occupation for women in the 1940s. She completed her master’s in her first year and received a master of science (physics) in 1949. Embarking on her PhD, she began what was to become her life’s work, a study of the structure of the nucleus under the direction of Professor Hugh Richards. In 1952, she was awarded a PhD for her thesis Energy Levels of Some Light Nuclei and Their Classification.
Before completing her thesis, she contacted Tom Lauritsen at California Institute of Technology who had been performing nuclear physics experiments similar to those she had been doing for her thesis. He agreed to host her visit in the summer of 1952. This began a decades-long scientific and personal collaboration. That year she accepted a one-year teaching position at Smith College and discovered a passion for teaching.
She obtained a faculty position at Boston University. While attending a lecture by physicist Walter Selove, she, in her own words, instantly fell in love. They married in 1955 and remained devoted to each other for 55 years, until his death (Almanac September 7, 2010). In 1957, they moved to the Philadelphia area, where he became an associate professor of physics at Penn and she began more then a decade of teaching and research at Haverford College. In 1970, she left Haverford for Penn where she initially held a research professorship, 1970-1973 and, following the successful outcome of a discrimination suit, she became Penn’s second tenured woman faculty in SAS. She remained a member of the faculty for 30 years and became emeritus in 2003.
Throughout her career, she was passionate about research, teaching, and service to her field and to her country. Her excellence in teaching was recognized by the 1991 Lindback Foundation Award for Distinguished Teaching. She authored, first with Lauritsen (Caltech) and then for an additional 17 years on her own, nearly 5,000 published pages which served to guide an entire branch of physics on the study of the structure of the light nuclei. These served as a fundamental reference that digested and validated the vast amount of research on the structure of light nuclei. Dr. Ajzenberg-Selove conducted her own experimental research at nuclear physics laboratories and universities including CIT, MIT, Los Alamos, Brookhaven, and Lawrence Radiation Laboratory where she held various visiting appointments. Her bibliography contains more than 50 experimental papers.
She received honorary degrees from Smith College, 1955, Michigan State University, 1997, and Haverford College, 1999. She served on committees and panels for the American Physical Society (APS), the American Institute of Physics, the National Academy, and the National Research Council. She was a founding member of the Nuclear Physics Division of the American Physical Society and served as vice-chair, 1972-1973 and chair, 1973-1974. For the International Union of Pure and Applied Physics, she chaired the Commission on Nuclear Physics (1978-81) and was a member of the US National Committee (1977-1981). She served on the Governing Council of the AAAS (1974-1980). She organized and chaired the first Physical Society APS session on women in physics and served on the founding APS Committee on Women in Physics.
Dr. de Cani, Wharton
Dr. John S. de Cani, professor emeritus of statistics, died August 8 at age 88.
He earned his BS in mathematics from the University of Wisconsin in 1948 and then his MBA in statistics from Penn in 1951. After earning his PhD from Penn in 1958, Dr. de Cani was appointed an assistant professor in the department of statistics at Wharton. He chaired the department from 1971-78. Dr. de Cani retired in 1995 at which time he was also accorded emeritus status.
His research interest included “fast” algorithms for statistical computing, group sequential methods, statistics in clinical trials and statistics as legal evidence.
Dr. de Cani was the author of numerous articles and was co-author of the book Basic Statistics with Business Applications.
In addition to teaching and conducting research, Dr. de Cani was involved in many University related activities. He served on many school committees, was on the Affirmative Action council and the Faculty Grievance Commission. He was also a former vice president of the Faculty Club, now the University Club at Penn.
Dr. de Cani was also a consultant to such companies as Pfizer, McNeil Laboratories and the US Naval Air Development Center. He provided expert testimony in legal proceedings.
His professional affiliations and memberships included the American Statistical Association, the Institute of Mathematical Statistics and the Society of Social Studies in Science.
Dr. de Cani was the recipient of many honors and awards including a Lindback Award for Distinguished Teaching in 1964, the Sigma Kappa Phi Distinguished Teaching Award in 1978 and a Fulbright Award to the Norwegian School of Economics in 1959-1960.
Dr. de Cani is survived by his companion, Joanna Williams; his sister, Marjorie Salo; nieces and nephews, Marjorie Nelson, Mary Rooney, Roberta Grambor, Clement Taylor, Herbert Taylor, John Taylor, Gregory Salo and Paul Salo.
Contributions may be made to the ACLU, www.aclu.org, or the Free Library of Philadelphia, www.freelibrary.org
Dr. Gray, Electrical and Systems Engineering
Dr. Harry J. Gray, professor emeritus in electrical and systems engineering in the School of Engineering & Applied Science, died July 27 at age 88.
Dr. Gray earned all his degrees from the University of Pennsylvania, earning his BS in 1944 and MS in 1947, both in electrical engineering. Dr. Gray was appointed to the faculty after earning his PhD in 1953. He retired in 1989.
From 1943-1946, Dr. Gray was a radio specialist officer in the United States Navy.
He was one of 30 computer pioneers involved with ENIAC, the first electronic general-purpose computer, who was honored with a medal by Penn's Moore School of Electrical Engineering during a 40-year celebration of computer science and engineering at Penn (Almanac October 14, 1986).
In addition to teaching, Dr. Gray had been a consultant for various electrical and technical companies, including the Philco Corporation.
Dr. Gray had been involved in many professional organizations including the Institute of Radio Engineers, the Professional Group of Electronic Computers, the Professional Group on Antennas and Propagation and the Association for Computer Machinery.
Dr. Gray is survived by his wife, Cecilia M.; children, Margaret "Meg," Dr. David Roeltgen, Cecilia A. Gray, Mary Ellen Gilligan; six grandchildren; three great grand-children; and his sister, Patricia Gray. His daughter, Kathleen, was a Penn freshman when she died (Almanac July 1973).
Dr. Holteen, Dental Medicine
Dr. Edward G. Holteen, an adjunct faculty member in the School of Dental Medicine died July 13 at age 81.
A member of the Flying Dentists Association, Dr. Holteen flew to Guatemala, Honduras and Jamaica, where he preformed dental work for free. He was awarded the Fort Washington Historical Society's Heritage Award in 1979 for his work with the association.
He also maintained a dental practice in Fort Washington in addition to teaching operative dentistry, 1959-69, at the University of Pennsylvania. He retired from his dental practice in 1995.
Born in Camden, New Jersey, he earned a bachelor's at Columbia in 1952 and a doctorate in 1956 at Penn's School of Dental Medicine.
He served as a dentist in the Navy from 1956 to 1958, stationed in Newport, Rhode Island.
Dr. Holteen is survived by his wife, Sylvia; sons, Timothy and Edward G. Jr.; a stepson, Michael Moorhead; a stepdaughter, Meg Ann Moorhead; and three step-grandchildren.
Mr. Shuster, Law
Morris M. Shuster, retired Thomas A. O’Boyle Adjunct Professor of Law, passed away from leukemia on August 21; he was 82.
An expert in class action litigation and consumer and insurance law, Mr. Shuster became an adjunct lecturer at the Law School in 1981 and was appointed Thomas A. O’Boyle Adjunct Professor of Law in 1995. He last taught in 2009.
Mr. Shuster worked with several Philadelphia firms, including his own, Shuster & Beckman, and in recent years with Chimicles & Tikellis.
His philanthropy over the years supported the construction of the Morris and Lorna Shuster Moot Trial Court Room, support for the Public Interest Scholars at Penn Law and the Shuster Practice Professorship. He was also instrumental in the successful campaign to establish The Colin S. Diver Distinguished Chair in Leadership in honor of former Dean Colin S. Diver’s tenure at the Law School.
Mr. Shuster involved himself in the alumni life of the Law School by serving as a member of the Law Alumni Society’s Board of Managers, and by co-chairing his 45th Reunion celebration in 1999. He had served on the Law School’s Public Service Advisory Committee since its inception. In 1994, he received the Alumni Award of Merit.
Born in Philadelphia, he earned a BS from Wharton in 1951 and his JD from the Law School in 1954.
His many honors include the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Legal Services Excellence Award and being named a Pennsylvania Super Lawyer, four years in a row.
Amongst his many memberships and associations, Mr. Shuster was a member of the board of governors of the Philadelphia Bar Association and past president of the Philadelphia Trial Lawyers’ Association.
Mr. Shuster is survived by his wife, Lorna; a son, Stephen; a daughter, Pamela Lederer; a sister, Sandy Cohen; and three grandchildren, Benjamin, Max and Matthew.
Contributions may be sent to: Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania, Leukemia Research, c/o Dr. Selina Luger, Perelman Center for Advanced Medicine, 2nd floor, West Pavilion, 3400 Civic Center Blvd., Philadelphia, PA 19104.
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