University of Vermont

The College of Arts and Sciences

Department of Physics

In Memoriam: Physics Professor Emeritus Wesley 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. Wesley was born in Ruthven, Iowa in 1917 as the youngest of Isaac Nyborg and Leva Larson’s 6 children. Wesley’s childhood was spent on a rural farm in a time and place before electricity and cars were widely available. In his youth, he attended a one-room schoolhouse, and greatly enjoyed family sing-a-longs at the piano. After high school, he studied at Luther College where he was introduced to physics, which became his lifelong intellectual pursuit. 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 as one of most influential pioneers by the international biomedical ultrasound community.

He was 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 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 was a venerable, gentle man with a fine sweetness of character and humility. He loved the UVM Physics Department, and worked there more than 50 years. He donated generously to the department, making possible the establishment of a physics colloquium, a new faculty startup fund and a students’ summer research scholarship. Wes was also a deeply religious man. He was active in his local Community Lutheran church and the community, and gave freely and generously to many charities. He loved to sing, and was in a barbershop quartet as a young man and in church choirs for many years thereafter.

Wes deeply loved and cherished his wife Beth who died in 1989 after 44 years of marriage. He is survived by his daughter, Elsa Mondou, of Raleigh, North Carolina, four grandchildren, Christine, Michael, Julie, and Martin, and additional family and friends. He was an exceptional man with a profoundly good temperament, whose gift of unconditional love, and qualities of determination and independent spirit will provide inspiration for young scientists for a long time to come.