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About Sigma Xi » Leadership » Past Presidents » Branscomb

Lewis M. Branscomb
Duke, 1985-86

Lewis M. Branscomb's career has spanned government, industry and academia. He served under President Nixon as director of the U.S. National Bureau of Standards (now the National Institute for Standards and Technology), as chief scientist and vice president of IBM (1972-1986), and now holds the Albert Pratt Public Service Professorship at Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government. Branscomb directs the school's Science, Technology and Public Policy Program in the Center for Science and International Affairs. He was appointed by President Carter to the National Science Board, of which he is a past chairman. An atomic and molecular physicist, Branscomb graduated from Duke University in 1945 and received his Ph.D. degree from Harvard University in 1949. He pioneered the study of atomic and molecular negative ions, using absorption spectroscopy in crossed beams of ions and of light. He is a member of the National Academy of Engineering, the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Public Administration. A past president of the American Physical Society, Branscomb has written a number of books, including (with four co-authors at Harvard) Beyond Spinoff: Military and Commercial Technologies in a Changing World, and Empowering Technology: Implementing a U.S. Policy, addressing issues in U.S. technology policy. He served as 1985-86 president of Sigma Xi.


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