About the College

Distinguished Scholars

Raymond Andrew, Physics

World-renowned physicist E. Raymond Andrew was a graduate research professor emeritus in the Department of Physics. He was a member of the Royal Society and taught at UF from 1983-1998. Andrew was renowned internationally for his work on magnetic resonance and in particular for his pioneering contributions to nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), which has made such an enormous contribution to medicine.

He left Britain for the US in 1983 to join the NMR physics group at UF as graduate research professor with joint appointments in the Departments of Physics, Radiology, and Nuclear Engineering. Every time Andrew made a move he added another quantum to the advances in NMR. Indeed, he played a major role in establishing the vision for the National High Magnetic Field Laboratory in Florida in 1990. Andrew continued a very active program at UF with particular interest in the use of a recently acquired 3 T whole body-imaging capability jointly operated by UF and the Veterans' Administration Medical Center in Gainesville.

Andrew's work was characterized by his exceptional ability to see things clearly and a careful insight into the fundamentals of his area of physics. All in the field are deeply indebted to him, not only for his accomplishments but also for the style that was his hallmark: he was a firm but kind gentleman of high standards that could only come from an aristocrat of the academy.

Archie Carr, Zoology

His 1937 doctorate, the first granted in zoology by the University of Florida, was under the supervision of professor J. Speed Rogers, a limnologist. The entomologist Theodore Hubbell also influenced him strongly, as did the great animal ecologist W. C. Allee, who taught him the importance of ecological organization.

Although he learned ecology early, his first professional accomplishments were in taxonomy and evolutionary biology. From 1937 to 1943, Archie Carr spent his summers with Thomas Barbour, at Harvard's Museum of Comparative Zoology. It was Barbour who first expanded his horizons and gave him confidence in his own rapidly maturing intellectual powers. Barbour was the most important single person in Archie Carr's formative years as a biologist.

Throughout his life Archie Carr traveled widely as a research and consulting biologist. During the 1960s, this was facilitated by the Military Air Transport Service privileges that were apart of his Office of Naval Research grant to study sea turtle migration and navigation. He could travel free to any place in the world visited by U.S. military aircraft. His sea turtle studies took him to every part of the Gulf of Mexico, Caribbean, northeastern South America, and Pacific Central America. He also visited and worked in east Africa, New Caledonia, Papua New Guinea, Australia, and other places. Some of his research was done at sea; in 1978, he took part in the Green Turtle Expedition of the R.V. Alpha Helix in the waters off Costa Rica and Nicaragua. His knowledge of world ecosystems was legendary - it is said that when Time-Life Books was starting its meticulously researched series of natural history books, the editors offered him his choice of continents to write about. He chose Africa.

The Archie Carr Center for Sea Turtle Research has been named in his honor.

Buzz Holling, Environmental Sciences

Holling came to UF as an Eminent Scholar ten years ago from the University of British Columbia, and since his arrival, he has won more than $4.8 million in research and program grants, staged nine workshops on the Everglades for more than 160 scientists, corporate leaders, public officials, and managers and public interest groups, trained 140 graduate students in ecosystem research, and created an information and policy "Resilience Network" of scientists, business persons, government officials and public interest groups that focuses on sustainable development in 10 countries and 17 regions.

He received an honorary Doctor of Science degree from the University of Guelph, Canada, in 1998. The university elected to award Holling because of his "outstanding accomplishments in the fields of population biology and natural resource management." As part of the ceremony, he will give an address to the new graduates of Guelph's College of Biological Science.

Elizabeth Lada, Astronomy

Elizabeth Lada won a prestigious $390,000 Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Award from the National Science Foundation in May 1998. Lada is also a recipient of the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers, which a White House news release called "the highest honor bestowed by the United States government on outstanding scientists and engineers beginning their careers." The program includes a $500,000 research grant to Lada over a five-year period.

Lada came to UF in 1996 after three years as a Hubble (Telescope) Fellow at the University of Maryland and three years as an astrophysicist at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. She has a bachelor's in physics from Yale University and a doctorate in astronomy from the University of Texas at Austin.

Her current work includes trips around the globe to work with an array of telescopes and imaging equipment that can peer through dust clouds in space and provide pictures of new stars.

Neil Opdyke, Geology

When Neil Opdyke first began his research in the early 1960s, the concept of an Earth where you could walk from Florida to Africa, of "supercontinents'' like Pangaea and Godwanaland and Laurasia, was still the subject of much scientific debate.

Geology Professor Neil Opdyke, a member of the National Academy of Sciences, helped prove that the continents were once assembled into two great land masses before "drifting'' apart into their current configuration.

As late as 1963—when Opdyke was beginning his research at Columbia University's Lamont-Doherty Geological Observatory in Palisades, N.Y.—an article in Scientific American reported that opinions on the theory of continental drift "divide most sharply between the position that the Earth has been rigid throughout its history ... and the opinion that the Earth is slightly plastic, with the continents slowly drifting over its surface, fracturing and reuniting and perhaps growing in the process.''

Five years later, another article in Scientific American that cited Opdyke's research was titled "The Confirmation of Continental Drift'' and subtitled "After years of debate many lines of evidence now favor the idea that the present continents were once assembled into two great land masses: Godwanaland in the south, Laurasia in the north.''

In recognition of his work in the field, Opdyke, who came to UF in 1980, was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 1996. The academy citation on him reads: Opdyke's pioneering studies of the Earth's ancient magnetic field confirmed the hypothesis of continental drift and provided insight into the timing of mammalian evolution and migration, and into the nature of paleoclimatic conditions. His study of geomagnetic reversals in deep sea cores led to the theory of plate tectonics.

Now Opdyke and his colleague Kainian Huang are using paleomagnetism to track continental drift in Southeast Asia. With support from the National Science Foundation, the two researchers are studying the Indian subcontinent's northern shift into Asia.

John Slater, Quantum Theory Project

In Fall 1964 a major influence on the Quantum Theory Project's evolution arrived in the person of John C. Slater, appointed as Graduate Research Professor of Physics and Chemistry. Slater had been Professor and Chairman of the Department of Physics at MIT and had established the Solid-State and Molecular Theory Group (SSMTG) there. The arrival of Slater meant a considerable strengthening of QTP in the area of condensed matter theory.

Slater received his PhD in physics from Harvard University in 1923. He then studied at Cambridge and Copenhagen, and returned to Harvard in 1925. From 1930 to 1966, Slater was a professor of physics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. During the war years, he was involved in radar research at MIT and Bell Telephone Laboratories. From 1966 to 1976 Slater was research professor in physics and chemistry at the University of Florida.

In the quantum chemistry community, Slater is best known for introducing in 1930 a new functional expression to represent atomic orbitals which has an e-r dependence. These functions came to be known as "Slater orbitals".

John Thompson, Mathematics

In 2008, John G. Thompson won the world’s most prestigious award in mathematics, the Abel Prize, which he shared with European mathematician Jacques Tits, splitting the $1.2 million award. This followed winning the National Medal of Science on December 1, 2000.

Thompson has been a tenured Graduate Research Professor at the University of Florida since 1993, and was a visiting Graduate Research Professor here during 1985-1988.

Thompson is an expert in Group Theory. This subject was founded by the nineteenth century French mathematician Evariste Galois who died tragically in a duel at the age of 20. It grew out of the study of symmetries associated with the solutions of polynomial equations, and has important applications in physics, chemistry, and allied fields.

Thompson's research focuses on group theory, a branch of mathematics that studies symmetries, such as those that arise in geometry and in the solutions to algebraic equations. Thompson is noted in the field for collaborating with fellow mathematician Walter Feit to solve one of its most difficult problems. The two worked on the so-called "odd order" problem and wrote a 253-page proof that comprised an entire issue of the Pacific Journal of Mathematics. This achievement won Thompson the Fields Medal in 1970, the highest prize in mathematics, equivalent in prestige to the Nobel Prize.

In addition to the Fields Medal, Thompson was awarded the Cole Prize of the American Mathematical Society in 1966, elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 1971, and elected Fellow of The Royal Society in 1979. He was awarded The Royal Society's Sylvester Medal in 1987, and in 1992, the Israeli government awarded Thompson the Wolf Prize for his lifelong contributions to mathematics. In 1992 he was also awarded the Henri Poincare Golden Medal by the Académie des Sciences in Paris. This prestigious medal has only been awarded on two other occasions.

Notable Awards to Scholars

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