Jon Torger Hougen

In Memoriam: Jon Torger Hougen, 1936-2019

January 28, 2019

Jon Hougen, OSA Fellow and recipient of the Ellis R. Lippincott Award, passed away on 28 January 2019 at the age of 82. Hougen’s research interests were in quantum mechanical and group theoretical calculations of quantities of molecular spectroscopic interest for various cases of interaction between rotational, vibrational, and electronic motion, with particular emphasis on rotational energy levels and rotational line intensities. He served on the Editorial and Advisory Board of the Journal of Molecular Spectroscopy, which honored him with special issues on his 67th and 80th birthdays.

Hougen was born in Sheboygan, Wisconsin, in 1936. He completed his undergraduate degree at the University of Wisconsin (1956) and earned  master’s and doctoral degrees at Harvard University. Hougen spent a majority of his career at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) where he was a member of D.R. Lide’s Microwave and Infrared Group, then later Chief of the Molecular Spectroscopy Section. In 1984, he was named a Senior Research Fellow and then he served for a year as Acting Chief of the Molecular Physics Division. Hougen retired in 2001 after 34 years at NIST, but continued to serve as a NIST Scientist Emeritus.

Hougen was a member of several scientific societies and was a Fellow of the American Physical Society and of The Optical Society (1987).  He was an OSA Emeritus member and member of the OSA Fundamental Laser Science Technical Group. He received a number of awards during his career including the Coblentz Award, Silver and Gold Medals from the National Board of Standards, Ellis R. Lippincott Award (1984), and the Marcus Marci Award from the Czech Spectroscopy Society.  Hougen was an active advisory committee member of the Institute of Atomic and Molecular Science in Taipei, Taiwan.  

Hougen will be remembered for his keen interest in languages and his work to encourage young scientists, especially those with who had limited resources. He was a defender of “good science” and supported a number of progressive causes, journalists, and candidates who were fighting for social justice. Hougen will be dearly missed by his family, colleagues, and the scientific community.

OSA mourns the loss of Jon T. Hougen.


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