Print / View Finding Aid as Single Page

New York University Archives logo

Guide to the Papers of John R. Lamarsh
 MC 14

Elmer Holmes Bobst Library
70 Washington Square South
New York, NY, 10012
(212) 998-2641

New York University Archives

Collection processed by Processed by: Rohinie Jayatilaka Munzel

This finding aid was produced using the Archivists' Toolkit on February 16, 2012
Description is in English.

Historical/Biographical Note:

John R. Lamarsh, an eminent nuclear physicist and a longtime member of the New York University faculty, was born in Hartford, Connecticut on March 12th, 1928 and died on July 26th, 1981. He received his Bachelor of Science degree in General Science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1948 and attained his doctorate in Physics from this same institution in 1952.

Dr. Lamarsh's first academic appointment was as Assistant Professor of Physics at the University of Kentucky from 1953 to 1954. Following a brief appointment at the Brookhaven National Laboratory, he joined the faculty of New York University and served as Assistant Professor of Physics for one academic year. In 1957 he accepted the position of Assistant Professor of Engineering Physics at Cornell University, where he remained until 1962. Upon concluding his term at Cornell, Dr. Lamarsh returned to New York University's College of Engineering as Associate Professor of Nuclear Engineering and was also appointed Director of the Nuclear Engineering Program.

New York University's College of Engineering had offered courses in Nuclear Engineering since 1950. During the 1962-63 academic year the Nuclear Engineering Program was reorganized and the position of Director of the Nuclear Engineering Program was created. Under Dr. Lamarsh's direction the curriculum in Nuclear Science and Engineering was reorganized and expanded. During this same academic year the College of Engineering was renamed the School of Engineering and Science, taking effect in the 1963-1964 academic year. In 1967 the University's Board of Trustees approved a proposal to elevate the Nuclear Engineering Program to full departmental status, effective on September 1st, 1967.Professor Lamarsh, who was instrumental in organizing the department, was appointed its first chairman.

Dr. Lamarsh held the title of Associate Professor of Nuclear Engineering until 1966, when he was promoted to the status of full Professor of Nuclear Engineering; he held both these positions until 1973, when the New York University School of Engineering and Science merged with the Brooklyn Polytechnic Institute to become the Polytechnic Institute of New York. Dr. Lamarsh served as Professor of Nuclear Engineering and headed the Department of Nuclear Engineering from 1973 until his death in 1981. While at the Polytechnic Institute, he maintained his ties with New York University by serving as Adjunct Professor of Environmental Medicine at the New York University Medical Center from 1973 until 1981.

During his tenure at New York University Dr. Lamarsh published Introduction to Nuclear Reactor Theory (1966). This graduate-level textbook was based upon lectures which he gave at Cornell and New York Universities on the topic of nuclear reactor theory. While at the New York Polytechnic Institute, he published his second major work, which was entitled Introduction to Nuclear Engineering (1975). This publication was based upon classroom notes prepared for courses he taught at New York University as well as at the Polytechnic Institute of New York. In addition to these two substantial publications Dr. Lamarsh published several reports, essays and articles during his illustrious career as an educator and renown nuclear physicist.

Aside from his academic duties, Dr. Lamarsh maintained several other professional positions with various federal, state and private organizations. Among these affiliations was the Brookhaven National Laboratory, where he served as Associate Physicist from 1954 to 1956. His consulting activities were numerous; among the agencies he served were: United Aircraft Corporation (1952-1953); Atomic Power Development Associates, Detroit, Michigan (1959-1960); The Gmelin Institute, Larchmont, New York (1957-1960); Picatinny Arsenal, Dover, New Jersey(1966-1972); Township of Lower Alloways Creek, New Jersey (1973-1978); International Nuclear Service Research, Inc. (1976-1978);the Federal Office of Technology Assessment (19761979); the Congressional Research Service of the Library of Congress(1976-1981); the United States General Accounting Office(1977-1981); the National Science Foundation (1979-1981); and the Pennsylvania Power and Light Company (1980-1981).

Furthermore, Dr. Lamarsh served on the Mayor's Technical Advisory Committee on Radiation for the City of New York(1974-1981), the Advisory Committee on Engineering Science at the New Jersey Institute of Technology (1977-1981) and the Visiting Committee in Nuclear Science, Maritime College, State University of New York (1979). Dr. Lamarsh's affiliation with professional agencies and societies in an administrative capacity was also extensive. He served as president of International Nuclear Service Research, Inc. from 1979 to 1981. He was elected chairman of the Education Committee of the American Nuclear Society's New York Metropolitan Section in 1966 and held this title until 1981. From 1975 to 1981 he served on the Executive Committee of the American Nuclear Society's Education Division. Dr. Lamarsh served as chairman of the American Nuclear Society's New York Metropolitan Section from 1977 to 1978 and chairman of the Society's Education Division from 1978 to 1979. Moreover, he was appointed administrative judge of the Federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission, just prior to his untimely death in 1981.

Dr. Lamarsh's research, which dealt primarily with nuclear power development, was considerable. He undertook and produced extensive studies in the following areas: floating nuclear power plants in Korea, breeder reactor technology, nuclear non-proliferation policy, implementation and impact of the Nuclear NonProliferation Act, nuclear proliferation and the implications of educating foreign nationals, alternative fuel cycles and the Three Mile Island accident.

Dr. Lamarsh's firm belief in the advantages of nuclear power was clearly reflected inhis published research as well as in the speeches he addressed to varied audiences. His primary concern was to ensure the rational realization of nuclear power. He was very concerned with keeping issues of reactor safety and the control of nuclear weapons proliferation up-to-date. Moreover, Dr. Lamarsh made a concerted effort to clarify the relevance of nuclear technology in an attempt to benefit policy making decisions.