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Home > About Us > Board of Trustees >

Dr. William Happer

Board Member Since 1987

Dr. William Happer Dr. William Happer, a professor in the Department of Physics at Princeton University, is a specialist in modern optics, optical and radiofrequency spectroscopy of atoms and molecules, and spin-polarized atoms and nuclei. He joined the faculty at Princeton in 1980 and was named the Class of 1909 Professor of Physics in 1988.

From 1987 to 1990, Dr. Happer served as chairman of the steering committee of JASON, a group of nationally known scientists who advise government agencies on defense, intelligence, energy policy, and other technical issues. He has been a member since 1976. He served on the Science and Technology Advisory Committee of the Department of Homeland Security from 2002 to 2005. In 1994, he co-founded Magnetic Imaging Technologies Incorporated, a small company specializing in the use of laser polarized noble gases for magnetic resonance imaging.

In July 1991, President George Bush appointed Dr. Happer director of Energy Research in the Department of Energy (DOE). In this role, he oversaw a basic research budget of $3 billion, which included much of the federal funding for high energy and nuclear physics, materials science, magnetic confinement fusion, environmental science, the human genome project and other areas. He remained at the DOE until May of 1993 to help the Clinton administration during the transition period. Dr. Happer resigned from the MITRE board of trustees in July 1991 when he joined the DOE, and rejoined in August 1992.

He was reappointed professor of physics at Princeton in June 1993 and named the Eugene Higgens Professor of Physics and chair of the University Research Board in 1995, a position he held until 2005. In 2003, he was named to the Cyrus Fogg Brackett Chair of Physics.

Dr. Happer began his academic career in 1964 at Columbia University as a member of the research and teaching staff of the Physics Department. While serving as a professor of physics, he also served as co-director of the Columbia Radiation Laboratory from 1971 to 1976 and as director from 1976 to 1979.

A Fellow of the American Physical Society, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the National Academy of Sciences, and the American Philosophical Society, Dr. Happer has published more than 200 scientific papers. He is a trustee of the Richard Lounsbery Foundation and the Marshall Institute. He was awarded the Alfred P. Sloan Fellowship in 1966, an Alexander von Humboldt Award in 1976, the 1997 Broida Prize, the 1999 Davisson-Germer Prize of the American Physical Society, and the Thomas Alva Edison Patent Award in 2000.

Dr. Happer received a doctorate in physics from Princeton in 1964. During his graduate education, he had a National Science Foundation Fellowship, a Woodrow Wilson Fellowship, and a Queen Fellowship. In 1960, he received a bachelor's degree in physics from the University of North Carolina (UNC). While at UNC, he held a Morehead Scholarship and a National Merit Scholarship.


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