david white

David White, emeritus professor and former chair of chemistry in the School of Arts & Sciences at the University of Pennsylvania, passed away January 30 at the age of 90.

Dr. White was born January 14, 1925 in Ukraine, USSR. He received his BS in 1944 from McGill University and his PhD in 1947 from the University of Toronto in Canada.

In 1947, he came to the US where he had a position at the Ohio State University as a postdoctoral fellow and later as assistant director, then director of the Cryogenic Laboratory.

Dr. White was one of the leading scientists in the area of hydrogen and its isotopes, with the Department of the Navy supporting much of his research in the 1940s. He witnessed the first hydrogen bomb explosion and designed the expansion engine for liquefying gases, giving the patent to Air Products.

Dr. White was appointed professor and chairman of Penn’s chemistry department in 1966. He helped build a chemistry department that attracted world-class faculty including Nobel award winners (Almanac October 17, 2000). He later became the director of Penn’s Laboratory for Research on the Structure of Matter (LRSM) in 1981.

Dr. White was involved in many professional societies and boards, such as the National Research Council Board on Science and Technology for International Development and various panels of the National Science Foundation.

Dr. White is survived by his children, Sharon, Jacqueline (David) Kaplan and Edward (Barbara Sprague); sister, Rose Yasin; and ten grandchildren, Emily, Michael, Aaron, Ali, Jacob, Joshua, Jonathan, Rachel, Leah and Joseph.

Donations may be made in Dr. White’s memory to the department of chemistry at the University of Pennsylvania: https://giving.apps.upenn.edu/giving/jsp/fastdo?program=SAS&fund=630006

The department is planning a memorial.