Sawyer, Ralph A. (Ralph Alanson), 1895-1978Variant names
Professor of physics, dean of the Horace H. Rackham School of Graduate Studies, director of the Phoenix Project, and Vice President for Research at the University of Michigan, scientist and administrator for the U.S. Navy during World War II, technical director of atomic bomb tests at Bikini Atoll, officer of the American Institute of Physics and Optical Society of America.
From the description of Ralph A. Sawyer papers, 1918-1978. (University of Michigan). WorldCat record id: 154302275
Physicist (spectroscopy, ordnance). On the physics faculty of University of Michigan, 1919-1965; dean Horace B. Rackham School of Graduate Studies, 1946-1965; director, Phoenix Project, 1951-1959. He died in 1978.
From the description of Student notes, 1916-1917. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 79359134
Ralph Alanson Sawyer (1895-1978). Physicist (spectroscopy, ordnance). On the faculty of University of Michigan (1919-1965); dean Horace B. Rackham School of Graduate Studies (1946-1965); director, Phoenix Project (1951-1959).
From the description of Oral history interview with Ralph Alanson Sawyer, 1967 March 16 and 1970 September 24. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 81360279
Sawyer died in 1978.
From the description of Intellectual autobiography, ca. 1960. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 78695934
Ralph A. Sawyer was a University of Michigan physicist, distinguished for his research in spectroscopy, radiometry, and various forms of spectrographic analysis, and later in atomic energy research. While at the University of Michigan, and in different administrative positions, Sawyer was responsible for the growth of the University's research program in the 1950s and 1960s.
Sawyer was born in 1895 in Atkinson, New Hampshire. After graduating from Dartmouth in 1915, Sawyer enrolled at the University of Chicago, becoming an assistant in physics in 1917. In 1918 he entered the Navy and designed optical instruments for the Bureau of Ordnance. After leaving the Navy in 1919, he received is Ph.D. degree from Chicago and joined the physics department of the University of Michigan. Sawyer rose to the rank of full professor by 1930. During his career he became a specialist in the fields of spectroscopy, radiometry, extreme ultraviolet spectra, series analysis of line spectra, hyperfind structure of spectral lines and quantitative spectrographic analysis.
During World War II, Sawyer was on leave to serve in the United States Naval Reserve. He was first commissioned as a lieutenant commander and placed in charge of experimental laboratories of the Naval Proving Ground in Dahlgren, Virginia. In 1943, he was promoted to commander, assuming charge of the testing and research laboratory.
When released from the Navy in 1945, Sawyer was appointed head of the ordnance division of the naval ordnance test station at Iyokern, California. In April 1946, he became civilian technical director of the Bikini atom bomb tests (known as known as Joint Task Force One) where he supervised and co-ordinated the activities of more than 500 scientists.
Following the tests, also in 1946, Sawyer was chosen dean of the Horace H. Rackham School of Graduate School of the University of Michigan where he served until 1964. He also served the university as director of the Michigan Memorial Phoenix Project established to explore the peaceful uses of atomic energy from 1951-1959. And in 1959, he was appointed to be university vice president for research.
During this period Sawyer also served as chairman of the governing board and acting director of the American Institute of Physics and president of the Optical Society of America, as well as a member of many boards and panels of both civilian and military research groups. After his retirement from the university in 1964, Sawyer continued to work as a consultant. Sawyer died in 1978.
From the guide to the Ralph A. Sawyer Papers, 1918-1978, (Bentley Historical Library University of Michigan)
|Place Name||Admin Code||Country|
|Bikini Atoll (Marshall Islands)|
|Physics--Study and teaching (Graduate)|
|World War, 1939-1945--Science|
|World War, 1939-1945|
|World War, 1914-1918--Science|
|Wave-motion, Theory of|