Monday, April 28, 2014

Deceased--Andrew Sessler

Andrew Sessler
December 11th, 1928 to April 17th, 2014

"Former director of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory dies at 85"


Chris Tril

April 27th, 2014

The Daily Californian

Andrew Sessler, a former director of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, died April 17 of cancer. He was 85.

Known as one of the most influential accelerator physicists in the history of the field to his friends and colleagues, Sessler joined the lab in 1959 and eventually became director in 1973. As director, he expanded the Berkeley lab to its largest size at the time and focused its attention toward the environment, establishing the lab’s Energy and Environment Division, or what is now the Environmental Energy Technologies Division.

“He was an outstanding scientist and a superb human being,” said Morris Pripstein, guest senior scientist at the Berkeley lab and Sessler’s colleague. “I would refer to him as a ‘mensch,’ which in the Jewish lexicon is the highest praise one can bestow on a person.”

Sessler was born on Dec. 11, 1928, and grew up in New York City. As an undergraduate, he studied math at Harvard University and he later obtained his doctorate in physics from Columbia University. Sessler began work at the Berkeley lab after serving as a professor at Ohio State University for five years.

While expanding the Berkeley lab, Sessler also made sure the lab focused more on the environment than just physics. Other than forming the Energy and Environment Division, he also worked on developing accelerators — devices that collide particles for scientists to study the structure of matter.

“Andy Sessler changed the face and character of our laboratory,” said Paul Alivisatos, current director of the lab, in a statement. “He successfully made the case for science to aid our country during its first energy crisis.”
According to Arthur Rosenfeld, professor emeritus of physics at UC Berkeley, Sessler’s great legacy in physics was his expertise in accelerator design, particularly medical accelerators, which helped treat several kinds of cancer by generating X-rays for purposes in radiation therapy.

In addition to making key contributions to physics and accelerator science, Sessler was a devoted humanitarian.

In 1978, Sessler and several other UC Berkeley physicists founded a group in response to the arrests of physicist Yuri Orlov and Israeli politician Natan Sharansky by Soviet authorities. The group publicly encouraged Soviets to cease the oppression of members of the scientific community. According to Pripstein, a co-founder of the group, Sessler played a “profound role” in the group, which eventually mushroomed into an international organization involving more than 10,000 scientists from 44 countries.

Kwang-Je Kim, a professor of physics at the University of Chicago and a colleague of Sessler early in his career at the Berkeley lab, recalled moments outside of work when they enjoyed the outdoors together, such as jogging during lunch breaks and backpacking in the Sierra Nevada.

“Andy showed how to enjoy the quality of life,” Kim said.

Andrew Sessler [Wikipedia]

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