Floyd K. Richtmyer

Floyd Richtmyer was born October 12, 1881 in Cobleskill, N.Y. He studied at Cornell University where he earned a Ph.D. in 1910. With the exception of two early years at Drexel University, Richtmyer remained at Cornell for the duration of his career, as professor of physics and then dean of the graduate school.

In research Richtmyer investigated x-rays. He went abroad to Germany and Sweden to further his research and consulted for the National Bureau of Standards and General Electric Co. During World War I, Richtmyer served in the U.S. Signal Corps as a radio engineer and served after the war in the Officer Reserve Corps.

Richtmyer published a number of papers and books including the popular Introduction to Modern Physics (with E.H. Kennard and T. Lauritsen in later revisions.) When the new Journal of the Optical Society of America began in 1917, Richtmyer wrote the very first article, Vol. 1, p.1., which was titled “Opportunities for Research.” In 1933, he succeeded Paul Foote as editor of JOSA, and he served until his death in 1939.

He received the Franklin Institute’s Levy Medal and was a member of the National Research Council and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He served in a number of leadership positions for professional societies including APS and Sigma Xi. In 1918 and 1919, he served as OSA’s vice president and then as president in 1920. The well-liked professor of physics also helped found the American Association of Physics Teachers and served as its president.

A life trustee of the National Geographic Society, Richtmeyer traveled to the Canton Islands in the Pacific as a member of the National Geographic U.S. Navy eclipse expedition.

Richtmyer died in 1939.