Alan Tower Waterman

Alan_T_WatermanAlan Tower Waterman (June 4, 1892 – November 30, 1967) was an American physicist and first director of the National Science Foundation.

Born in Cornwall-on-Hudson, New York, he grew up in Northampton, Massachusetts. His father was a professor of physics at Smith College. Alan also became a physicist, doing his undergraduate and doctoral work at Princeton University, from which he obtained his Ph.D. in 1916.

He joined the faculty of the University of Cincinnati, and married Mary Mallon (sister of H. Neil Mallon) there in August 1917. He later became a professor at Yale University, and moved to North Haven, Connecticut in 1929. During World War II, he took leave of absence from Yale to become director of field operations for the Office of Scientific Research and Development, and the family moved to Cambridge, MA. He continued his government work and became deputy chief of the Office of Naval Research. In 1950, he was appointed as first director of the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF). He served as director until 1963, when he retired and was subsequently awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom. He died in 1967.

The crater Waterman on the Moon is named after him, as is Mount Waterman in the Hughes Range of Antarctica.