23 January 2002 |

Harry Morrison
Retired physicist Harry Lee Morrison, an assistant dean in the Undergraduate Advising Office of the College of Letters & Science, died of a heart attack Jan. 14. He was 69.

A professor of physics at Berkeley for 22 years, he retired from the faculty in 1994 but continued working as an assistant dean, a position he had held for 11 years. In that role, he helped adjudicate student requests for exceptions to campus rules and regulations.

“Harry was a strong supporter for encouraging minority and women students to pursue math-based majors as undergraduates at Berkeley,” said Leroy Kerth, vice chairman of the physics department. “He contributed greatly to the department through his scientific achievements, through his leadership and through his personal warmth.”

The only African American member of the physics faculty, Morrison was a natural magnet for minority students in the department.

He was also involved in the early planning stages of Mathematics, Engineering, and Science Achievement, or MESA, a program designed to boost minority enrollment in college. It has since become a nationally recognized academic preparation program.

“When I think of Harry, I think of him as devoted to his family, devoted to mentoring of minority students, and devoted to the life of an intellectual,” said P. Buford Price, professor of physics and dean of the physical sciences in the College of Letters & Science. “He always greeted me with a grin and a chuckle.”

Morrison specialized in an area of theoretical physics called statistical mechanics. For many years the only faculty member in that field, he attempted to understand the behavior of fluids when the temperature drops low enough for them to become so-called superfluids.

Morrison was born in Arlington, Va. in 1932. He attended Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., receiving his Ph.D. there in 1960. He was called to active military service at the U.S. Air Force Academy in 1961 and joined the staff of the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in 1964.
Morrison is survived by his wife, Harriett; a daughter, Vanessa Morrison of Los Angeles; brothers Samuel of Springfield, Va., Paul of Hampton, Va., and Charles of Oxon Hill, Md.; and a sister, Frances Ross of Arlington, Va.

Gilbert Shapiro
Gilbert Shapiro, a physics professor and a longtime researcher at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, died Dec. 5, of cancer.

Born in 1934 in Philadelphia, Penn, Shapiro worked in his father’s pharmacy throughout his youth. He earned his bachelor’s degree from University of Pennsylvania and his Ph.D. from Columbia. He joined the scientific staff of the Radiation Laboratory (now LBNL) in 1961. Two years later, he joined the faculty of the physics department, where he has served ever since.

Shapiro had broad physics interests that he applied with great skill in his research activities. At the lab, he was part of the renowned Segré-Chamberlain Group (named for its Nobel Laureate leaders Emilio Segré and Owen Chamberlain), and worked with Chamberlain to build the first polarized target to be used in high-energy physics experiments.
Over the next 20 years, he worked to refine this technique and applied it to make pioneering measurements of polarization in the study of fundamental symmetries and high-energy interactions. Later he performed research at the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center.

“Gil was not flamboyant,” said fellow scientist Herb Steiner, “but he would quietly understand what was going on an and find the solutions that would enable us to do the experiments.”

Shapiro taught regularly in Berkeley’s physics department, where he enjoyed explaining concepts and interesting new developments to non-physicists in Physics 10, a course he dubbed “Physics for Football Players.” He wrote a popular textbook for this course, titled “Physics without Math.” A second book, “A Skeleton in the Dark Room,” described the element of chance behind a number of famous scientific developments.

During the era of intense campus protests, Shapiro would sometimes hold lectures at home, using a blackboard in his living room. In addition to teaching and research, his favorite activities included attending concerts at Stern Grove, rooting for the ’49ers or the Cal rugby team, and reading a story to a grandchild.

Through the years, Shapiro kept a daily journal — which included an account of his meals, experiments, meetings, sports events. Each week, he would assemble the daily journals, address them to a member or members of his family, and drop them in the mail.

Shapiro is survived by his wife, Harriet; three children, James Shapiro, Dinah Shapiro and Susan Gross; son-in-law Ted Gross; and two grandchildren, Rebecca and Steven Gross.

Memorial contributions may be made to the UC Regents, c/o the Gilbert Shapiro Fund, and mailed to Department of Physics, University of California, Berkeley, 366 LeConte Hall, MC 7300, Berkeley, CA, 94720-7300.


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