In Memoriam: Physics Professor Emeritus Wesley Nyborg

Wes Nyborg Wesley Nyborg, Physics Professor Emeritus at the University of Vermont, passed away on September 24, 2011 after a full and wonderful life of 94 years. He earned his Ph.D. from Pennsylvania State University in 1947, and served as an Assistant and Associate Professor of Physics at Brown University prior to joining the UVM Physics Department in 1960. He loved physics passionately and authored numerous peer reviewed articles and book chapters with a focus on ultrasound, particularly its clinical application and biophysical effects. He developed fundamental theories on microstreaming, acoustic radiation pressure and thermal effects of ultrasound, and he was considered to be one of most influential pioneers in that field by the international biomedical ultrasound community.

He was a member of the National Academy of Engineering, Vermont Academy of Science and Engineering, and a fellow of the Acoustical Society of America, the American Institute of Ultrasound in Medicine (AIUM), and the American Association for the Advancement of Sciences. He was also an honorary member of the National Council on Radiation Protection and Measurements and served as a consultant to the WHO and FDA. He was presented with many honors and awards including the prestigious Silver Medal of Acoustic Society of America, the Joseph H. Homes Pioneer Award, the W. J. Fry Memorial Lecture Award, and the Lauriston S. Taylor Lecture Award.

He loved the UVM Physics Department, and worked there more than 50 years. He led a frugal life but donated generously to the department, making possible the establishment of a physics colloquium, a new faculty startup fund, and a summer research scholarship for students.

Commenting on Dr. Nyborg’s contributions to the college, Dennis Clougherty, Professor and Chair of the Physics Department said, “It seems that whenever I travel to other universities or institutions, I am asked about Wes. He was the face of UVM science for many decades, and he was respected and admired everywhere for his contributions to ultrasound and for the quality of his personal character.”

Nyborg, Miller and Ziskin In October 2009, UVM hosted a special symposium in celebration of Dr. Nyborg’s fiftieth year in the Physics Department and honored his pioneering work in the field of physical acoustics and biomedical ultrasound. The symposium featured a morning session of invited papers related to Dr. Nyborg’s research interests and a brief afternoon session of contributed papers. The celebration continued with an evening banquet held in the Livak Ballroom of the UVM Davis Center. Those in attendance included his former graduate student Professor Douglas Miller (University of Michigan) and Professor Marvin Ziskin (Director of the Center for Biomedical Physics, Temple University). Pictured, from left to right, are Nyborg, Miller and Ziskin at the symposium.

Junru Wu, UVM Professor of Physics, reflected on his professional and personal friendship with Dr. Nyborg: “Wes made a great impact on my academic and personal life. When I joined the Physics Department as an assistant professor in the fall of 1987 after I finished my Ph.D. and postdoc-training at UCLA, he had already retired. He and his wife Beth warmly welcomed our family to settle down in Vermont and treated us with genuine Vermont food at ‘Dog-Team Restaurant.’ Wes also convinced and helped me to start the biomedical ultrasound research for which I’m very grateful. Wes and I spent a lot of time discussing various scientific topics in which we shared interests. We also coauthored several papers and book chapters together. Wes was an exceptional gentleman, and always ready to help people. I feel so lucky having him as my friend, colleague, mentor and role model. He will live in my heart forever.”