Jon Torger Hougen was born in Sheboygan, Wisconsin in 1936. He completed his undergraduate degree at the University of Wisconsin in 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, and 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 OSA. 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, 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’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 passed away in 2019.