In Memoriam: August 2010

IEEE mourns the loss of the following members

6 August 2010

Joanne Simpson
Pioneering meteorologist
Member, 86; died 4 March

The first woman to earn a doctorate in meteorology, Joanne Simpson made several key discoveries in the field.

She started out in 1949 as an assistant professor of physics at the Illinois Institute of Technology, in Chicago, and left in 1951 to become a meteorologist and study tropical clouds at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, in Massachusetts. In 1958 she established a new understanding of how hurricanes are formed and driven by showing that heat generated from the condensation of water in tall, anvil-shaped, cumulonimbus clouds provides the energy for fueling the storm.

In 1965 she was appointed director of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Experimental Meteorology Laboratory, in Coral Gables, Fla. She left in 1974 to become an environmental science professor at the University of Virginia, in Charlottesville, where she remained for five years. She left the university to become chief of the severe storms branch at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, in Greenbelt, Md.

In 1986 the agency picked her to lead the science planning team for a mission that developed the first space-based radar for monitoring and studying tropical rainfall. Between 1986 and the radar's launch in 1997, she worked with project engineers and scientists to develop its data system. In 2002, she and her team used the radar to measure from Earth's orbit the profile of latent heat released by tropical cloud systems. It was an important discovery because latent heat cannot be measured directly. Today, estimates of latent heat in the tropics can be obtained using a model based on Simpson's work.

Simpson received a bachelor's degree in 1943, a master's degree in 1945, and a doctorate in 1949, all in meteorology from the University of Chicago.


H. Edward Roberts
Computer pioneer
Affiliate Member, 68; died 1 April

H. Edward Roberts was an engineer and entrepreneur who designed what is considered by many technology historians to be the first commercially successful personal computer, the MITS Altair 8800.

Roberts came up with the idea some five years after he cofounded Micro Instrumentation and Telemetry Systems (MITS) in 1969, in Albuquerque, N.M., to produce miniature telemetry modules for model rockets. He also led a team that invented one of the first handheld electronic calculators, the MITS 816, in 1971. In 1974, he helped develop the MITS Altair 8800 based on the Intel 8080 central processing unit. Microsoft cofounders Bill Gates and Paul Allen developed Altair BASIC software in 1975, which they licensed to MITS. In 1977, Roberts sold MITS to Pertec Computer Corp., a manufacturer of disk and tape drives. He stayed on as research director for a while, then left to start DataBlocks, a software company in Georgia.

After earning a medical degree in 1986 from Mercer University, in Macon, Ga., he became a general practitioner in 1988 and established his own medical practice in Cochran, Ga.

Earlier, Roberts had earned a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering in 1968 from Oklahoma State University, in Stillwater.


Joseph Morrissey
Molecular biologist
Senior Member, 46; died 6 April

Joseph Morrissey, a professor and researcher in molecular biology, cancer, radiofrequency, and pharmaceutical sciences, was the victim of a homicide.

He began his career in 1993 at the Goodwin Institute for Cancer Research, in Plantation, Fla., where he investigated the possible relationship between cellphone use and cancer. He left in 1996 to join Motorola in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., as a senior scientist for the company's Electro-Magnetic Energy Laboratory, where he spent more than 12 years studying the effects of radiofrequency waves on the human body.

In 2009 he left to become an assistant professor of pharmaceutical sciences at Nova Southeastern University's College of Pharmacy, in Fort Lauderdale. There he researched how to use electromagnetic energy to improve the effectiveness of cancer medication.

He served on many standards committees, including those working on radiofrequency exposure limits. He was chair of Subcommittee 8 of the American National Standards Institute's Accredited Committee C63, which deals with the electromagnetic compatibility of medical devices. He also chaired the literature surveillance working group of the IEEE International Committee on Electromagnetic Safety.

Morrissey received bachelor's and master's degrees in biological sciences from the University of South Florida, in Tampa, and a doctorate in molecular biology in 1993 from the Stanford University Medical School.


Kerns H. Powers
Television pioneer
Life Fellow, 85; died 5 June

Kerns H. Powers was a pioneer in the fields of electronic cinematography and communications as well as standards development.

Powers began his career in 1951 as a member of the research staff of RCA Laboratories in Princeton, N.J., where he worked on color television and high-resolution radar. He left to earn a doctorate at MIT. While there in 1953, he helped invent the first atomic beam clock, the most accurate time and frequency standard, and in 1955 he became a research assistant in the electronics laboratory.

He returned to RCA Laboratories as director of communications research and worked on analytical studies in communications theory. He went on to serve as research manager for the television communications division at the David Sarnoff Research Center, in Princeton. There, in 1980, he developed the 16:9 aspect ratio, which combined the popular ratios used by filmmakers and television producers. The ratio, which made it easier to convert movies to television, has become the international standard format of high-definition, digital, and analog widescreen TV. He was promoted to vice president of communications research at the research center, a position he held before retiring in 1987.

Powers earned a dual bachelor's and master's degree in electrical engineering in 1951 from the University of Texas at Austin. He received a Ph.D. in electrical engineering in 1956 from MIT.


Norris C. Hekimian
Telecommunications entrepreneur
Life Fellow, 84; died 10 June

Norris C. Hekimian cofounded Hekimian Laboratories, a developer of automated test systems for telecommunications networks, in Rockville, Md., in 1968. The company supplied systems for clients that included Bell Telephone Laboratories and NASA. Hekimian sold the labs in 1983 to Axel Johnson, a New York City investment company, where he stayed on as an advisor.

Hekimian received a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering in 1949 from George Washington University, in Washington, D.C. He received a master's degree in 1951 and a doctorate in 1969, both in electrical engineering, from the University of Maryland, in College Park.


Linda Robertson Stuffle
Electrical engineer
Senior Member, 61; died 17 June

Linda Robertson Stuffle, an electrical engineer and educator, began her career in 1971 as an assistant relay engineer at Minnesota Power and Light Co., in Duluth, where she coordinated studies and investigated the effectiveness of power system fault recording. Stuffle left in 1972 to join Modern Constructors, also in Duluth, as project engineer. There she helped design and build the first large pipe-bending machine in the United States to rely on induction heating.

She left Modern Constructors in 1973 and spent the next 15 years teaching undergraduate and graduate courses in electric machinery and power systems at Michigan Technological University, in Houghton, and later at the Missouri University of Science and Technology, in Rolla.

From 1994 to 1999, she worked as an electrical engineer at Engineered Systems Associates, an electrical and mechanical design firm in Pocatello, Idaho. In 2000, she spent a year as a staff engineer at Bechtel BWXT Idaho, in Idaho Falls. She was appointed in 2007 to serve as associate director of curriculum design at Idaho State University's Energy Systems Technology Education Center, in Pocatello.

Stuffle received a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering in 1971 and a master's degree in business administration in 1978 from Michigan Technological University. She earned a master's degree in electrical engineering in 1983 from Purdue University, in West Lafayette, Ind.


The following person was not an IEEE member but did important work in IEEE's fields of interest.

Edwin E. Kintner
Nuclear power pioneer
90; died 7 May

Edwin E. Kintner made significant contributions to energy technologies. While an engineer for the U.S. Navy in 1949, he helped develop a reactor that was later used in the first nuclear-powered submarine, USS Nautilus. He went on to work for the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission and was head of the Department of Energy's fusion program, overseeing the construction of reactors and the development of nuclear power as an alternate energy source. He retired as a U.S. Navy captain in 1963.

In the 1970s, when gasoline prices were on the rise in the United States, Kintner was appointed director of the Department of Energy's magnetic fusion program, which explored ways to use fusion to develop a source of energy. He stepped down in 1982 in the face of limited financial and staffing resources.

In 1983, he joined General Public Utilities Nuclear Corp., in Morristown, N.J., as its executive vice president. He oversaw the remaining cleanup of the company reactor that had survived a partial core meltdown in an accident in 1979 at its Three Mile Island plant, near Harrisburg, Pa.

Kintner graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1941 with a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering. He earned dual master's degrees in naval construction and ocean engineering in 1946 and a master's degree in physics in 1950 from MIT.

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