PRESS, FRANK


PRESS, FRANK
PRESS, FRANK (1924– ) U.S. geophysicist. Born in Brooklyn, New York City, he graduated from City College, New York (1944), and received his M.A. (1946) and Ph.D. (1949) from Columbia University under the direction of Maurice Ewing. He was a faculty member of the Columbia department of geophysics (1946–55) and professor of geophysics and head of the seismology laboratory at the California Institute of Technology at Pasadena (1955–65) before moving to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology as head of the department of geology and geophysics. Press made fundamentally important contributions to seismology, geophysics, oceanography, the lunar and planetary sciences, and resources exploration. His best known research explored earthquake seismology by introducing methods of digital data collection and analysis, and investigated seismic wave propagation, free oscillations of the earth, and the composition of the part of the earth's crust called the asthenosphere. His seismographic expertise was invaluable for establishing the worldwide network of seismographs for detecting nuclear weapons testing. He also contributed to the studies that established the precise dimensions of the Antarctic continent. His books on his fields of expertise have become standard texts. Press made many vital contributions to institutional and national organizations. These include president of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences (1981–93), board member of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, membership of the U.S. delegation at four nuclear test ban treaty conferences (1959–63), chairman of the Earthquake   Prediction Panel of the President's Office of Science and Technology, membership of the President's Scientific Advisory Committee (1961–64), and science adviser to President Carter and director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy (1977–80). His many honors include Honorary Membership of the Society of Exploration Geophysicists (1961) and the Society's Maurice Ewing Medal (1982), the Royal Astronomical Society of Great Britain's Gold Medal (1962), the Arthur Day Medal of the Geological Society of America (1962), the U.S. National Medal of Sciences, Columbia's Pupin Medal (1993), the Japan Prize (1993), and the Lomonosov Gold Medal (1997). In 1961 Mount Press in Antarctica was named in his honor for his contributions to Antarctic exploration. He held strong views on science policy and education, emphasizing the need to provide support for young investigators. His wife, Billie, was an education specialist. (Michael Denman (2nd ed.)

Encyclopedia Judaica. 1971.

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