Frederick Seitz 1979


Frederick Seitz was born in San Francisco, USA, on 4 July 1911. He completed his university education at Princeton, obtain­ing a Ph.D. degree in 1934. After a year at Princeton University as Proctor Fellow, he taught at Rochester University, becoming Assistant Professor there in 1937.

From 1938 to 1939 he was engaged as Physicist with the General Electric Company of the USA, subsequently taking up the position of Assistant Professor at the University of Pennsylvania. In 1942 he became Associate Professor at the Carnegie Institute of Technology and, in the following year, Professor and Head of the Department of Physics at that Institute. From 1950 to 1957 Dr Seitz occupied the Chair of Physics at the University of Illinois and from 1958 to 1963 was Head of the Department of Physics at that University.

In 1964 he became Dean of the Graduate College and Vice-President of Research. Since 1968 he has been President of Rockefeller University, New York.

Frederick Seitz is today considered to be one of the pioneers in the field of Solid-State Physics - a field of Physics which is still relatively young, only having developed significantly during the past three to four decades.

Dr Seitz's research activities have contributed much to the present understanding of solids and, apart from his numerous other publi­cations in this field, he has written three textbooks which are re­cognised as classical and fundamental works in this field – The Modern Theory of Solids, The Physics of Metals, and Solid-State Physics.

These works placed theoretical and experimental Solid-State Physics on a sophisticated basis in the early days of its development, and today still form the foundation on which this "new" science is developing. Solid State Physics provides the fundamental ideas which are essential for materials technology to be able to meet the requirements of our modern age. After nearly forty years Dr Seitz's original textbooks are still in constant use at universities and re􀀅 search centres throughout the world.

Dr Seitz has served as a member and on the executive of numerous national committees and professional societies. A few of the most important positions that he has held are: Science Adviser to NATO, President of the National Academy of Science and the American Physical Society, member of the American Philosophical Society, member of the White House Advisory Group on Anticipated Advances in Science and Technology, Chairman of the National Aero­nautics and Space Administration and Chairman of the Board of the Guggenheim Foundation, as well as member of the National Cancer Advisory Board, the American Academy of Arts and Science, the Board of Trustees of Rockefeller University, the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research and the American Museum of National History.

The numerous awards made to Dr Seitz over the years are evidence of the esteem in which he is held. Since 1957 he has received honorary doctorates from numerous institutions, including 1he Universities of Ghent, Reading, Princeton, Notre Dame and Michigan State.

The works of Frederick Seitz have served as a constant source of information and inspiration to scientists in South Africa as well, and particularly to the staff and students of this University.

The Council and the Senate of the University of Port Elizabeth regard it as a privilege to have this opportunity to honour Dr Seitz, a great physicist whose contribution to science is recognised by the whole scientific world.