James H. Schulman

In Memoriam: James H. Schulman

December 19, 2009

In Memoriam: James H. Schulman, 1915-2009

James SchulmanJames H. Schulman, an OSA Fellow Emeritus and US Navy Department scientist, died December 19, 2009, in Washington, DC, after suffering a heart attack. He was 94.

James Herbert Schulman was born in Chicago, Illinois in 1915 to immigrants from Eastern Europe. He was raised in Boston, where he grew up in humble circumstances.

As a young man, he worked as a busboy and took night classes at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). A professor who took an interest in the part-time student mounted a successful campaign to get him admitted full time and helped him cover the tuition costs. Schulman received a bachelor's degree (1939) and a doctorate in chemistry (1942) from MIT.

After war-time research at MIT and in industry, Schulman joined the US Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) in 1946 to initiate research in luminescent materials and luminescence phenomena. This broadened into a general program of investigation of the role of atomic scale imperfections on the optical properties of solids, resulting in important contributions to the understanding of the energy transfer processes in non-photoconduction solids, the constitution and mechanism of radiation-induced formation of atomic-scale defects in solids, and the optical properties of these defects. Schulman pioneered the application of the radiation-induced optical changes in solids and developed several practical systems now used worldwide for monitoring radiation doses in military, clinical and civilian application of the radiation.

The first Chair of Science was established at NRL in 1963 in recognition of Schulman's basic and applied researches. This honorary position was held concurrently with the line managerial positions Schulman subsequently held at NRL. Schulman's NRL service was interrupted in 1960-61, when he served as Deputy Scientific Director and Liaison Scientist at the Office of Naval Research (ONR) in London. He returned to ONR in 1974 as Chief Scientist and Scientific Direct, a post he held through 1977. Shortly after returning to the US, Schulman was appointed Acting Technical Director of the Office of Naval Research, a position he held until he retired from the civil service in 1979.

Dr. Schulman was a Research Professor in the School of Engineering and Applied Science at George Washington University from 1980-1982 and a Consultant Scientist with the National Materials Advisory Board of the Commission of Sociotechnical Systems, National Academy of Sciences / National Research Council from 1979 to 1992. He was the US member of the NATO Research Council from 1970 to 1982. He was also a Consultant to the Subcommittee on Energy, Nuclear Proliferation and General Service of the US Senate Committee on Governmental Affairs.

An OSA member since 1952, Schulman was elected as an OSA Fellow in 1965. He was also a Fellow of the National Academy of Sciences and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. His honors include the Navy Award for Distinguished Achievement in Science (1972), the Distinguished Civilian Service Award (1970), and the 75th Anniversary Award for Innovation (1998).

Schulman co-wrote (with W. Dale Compton) Color Centers in Solids (1962) and was the author of more than 100 technical papers, mostly pertaining to the effect of radiation on solids. He held 16 patents, including a patent for a device that is used to measure exposure to radiation.

His wife of 61 years, Doris Greenfield Schulman, died in 2002. Schulman is survived by 3 children, 4 grandchildren, and 4 great-grandchildren.

A private memorial service was held in December 2009.

If you would like to make a memorial donation to the OSA Foundation in honor of James H. Schulman, please visit www.osa-foundation.org/give

This obituary was contributed by the Schulman family.