Frederick Seitz had a long and beneficial association with the Physics
Department and the Materials Research Laboratory at the University of
Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Dr. Seitz received his education at Stanford
University (mathematics) and at Princeton University (physics) where
he studied with Professor Wigner. He taught physics at the University
of Rochester, the University of Pennsylvania, and at Carnegie Institute
of Technology before coming to the University of Illinois in 1949. His
arrival at Illinois as a Professor of Physics occurred during the F.
W. Loomis era in the Physics Department and began the period of the
great growth in the solid state physics in the department with the arrival
also of Professors David Lazarus, James Koehler, and John Bardeen, Charles
Slichter, John Wheatley, Dillon Mapother, and David Pines.
of great talent made Illinois the major center of solid state physics
in the U.S. Professor Seitz became the Physics Department Head in 1957,
serving in that position until 1964. During that period, the growth
of solid state physics and metallurgy was nurtured by Fred Seitz who,
along with the excellent faculty in the Physics and Metallurgy Departments,
attracted a succession of world renowned physicists and metallurgists
to the Illinois prairie. A particularly notable event in the development
of solid state physics and materials physics as a field of science was
the publication, in 1940, of Professor Seitzs book, Modern Theory of
Solids, from which generations of students learned their solid state
physics and which served to define the field.
In 1959, Professor Seitz, in cooperation with Professor Robert Sproul
of Cornell, Professor Harvey Brooks of Harvard, Dr. Charles Yost of
the ONR, and Dr. Donald Stevens of the AEC (presently known as the DOE)
conceived of and worked to establish the Materials Research Laboratories
at several universities in the U.S. It is no exaggeration to state that
the concept of Materials Science as a discipline arose from the efforts
of these individuals. The first Materials Research Laboratories were
established at three universities in 1960 by ARPA. Illinois was not
among them due to a political dispute between the congressional delegations
of Michigan and Illinois. The Atomic Energy Commission did establish
a program at Illinois and in 1961, ARPA established the Materials Research
Laboratory at Illinois. This accounts for why the Materials Research
Laboratory at Illinois has both DOE and NSF programs to this day. While
Professor Seitz was instrumental in establishing the Materials Research
Laboratory, the first Director was Professor Robert Maurer.
Professor Seitz served as Dean of the Graduate College and Vice-Chancellor
for Research at Illinois until 1965 at which time he became the first
full time President of the National Academy of Sciences. He became President
of Rockefeller University in 1968 and served until 1978. Professor Seitz
has served on numerous governmental panels and committees, and advised
major political figures of the period on important scientific issues.
He has made numerous scientific contributions to the understanding of
the physics of solids; contributing significantly to the understanding
of quantum mechanics, defect properties of solids, radiation damage,
color centers, and transport properties of solids.