Kusiel S. Shifrin

In Memoriam: Kusiel S. Shifrin

June 02, 2011

In Memoriam: Kusiel S. Shifrin, 1918-2011

ShifrinProfessor Kusiel Solomonovich Shifrin, an OSA Fellow noted for his contributions to atmospheric and ocean optics, died on 2 June 2011 in Albany, Oregon, USA, just one month before his 93rd birthday.

Dr. Shifrin was born in Mstislavl, Belarus, and graduated from Leningrad State University in 1940 with degrees from both the Department of Physics and the Department of Mathematics and Mechanics.  He received his candidate’s degree (equivalent to a Ph.D.) from the Ioffe Physical-Technical Institute in 1943 and a D.Sc in 1951.

Between 1943 and 1946, Shifrin served with the. A.F. Mozhaysky Air Forces Academy and then taught physics at the Kazan Aviation Institute.  In 1946, he was named head of the Atmospheric Optics Laboratory of the A. I. Voyeykov Main Geophysical Observatory, a position he held for 20 years.  Beginning in 1969, Shifrin served as Head of the Oceanic Optics Department, Shirshov Institute of Oceanology, USSR Academy of Sciences.  In 1992, he came to the United States as a Research Professor at Oregon State University, where he remained until 2003.

Shifrin is known as a creator of the semiconductor theory, which he began working on as early as 1943.  This theory enabled scientists to predict and, for the first time, to explain a number of effects determining semiconductor techniques, performance and development.  

A leader in atmospheric and ocean optics, Shifrin contributed to our understanding of the scattering of light (direct and inverse) by regularly and randomly shaped particles. He developed the widely used microwave radiometric method and published more than 400 scientific works, including two classic monographs, Scattering of Light in Turbid Medium and Introduction to Ocean Optics

In 1973, Shifrin organized the Working Group on Ocean Optics (WGOO) at the Commission for the Problems of the World Ocean, USSR Academy of Science.  He led the group for twenty years.  He also taught at various universities in in Leningrad, Moscow and Kazan, Russia.

Shifrin was named an OSA Fellow in 1995. 

Kusiel Shifrin was highly respected by his colleagues and students.  In a tribute, they remembered him as a man who was “deeply honest, of rare modesty, very kind, benevolent and charming.  He always radiated cordiality and readiness to be of help to anybody who turned to him.  Fond memories of Kusiel Shifrin will forever be in the hearts of everybody who was lucky to be in touch with this brilliant scientist, outstanding teacher and wonderful man."

If you would like to make a donation to the OSA Foundation in memory of Dr. Shifrin, please visit www.osa-foundation.org/give.

This obituary was contributed by Kusiel Shifrin’s colleagues, friends and disciples.