D. Allan Bromley (1926-2005)

February 15, 2005

Renowned nuclear physicist D. Allan Bromley, the first Sterling Professor of the Sciences and Dean of Engineering at Yale from 1994 to 2000, died February 10 at age 78.

From 1989 to 1993, he served under George H.W. Bush as the first Assistant to the President for Science and Technology and Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy. After he returned to Yale, he was Dean of Engineering from 1994-2000. Upon his appointment as Dean, he began developing interdisciplinary programs in environmental engineering and biomedical engineering. The biomedical program currently draws joint faculty from the School of Medicine, biological sciences and other engineering departments.

One of the world’s leading nuclear physicists, Bromley was founder and director of the A.W. Wright Nuclear Structure Laboratory at Yale from 1963 to 1989. He carried out pioneering studies on both the structure and dynamics of atomic nuclei and was considered the father of modern heavy ion science, a major field of nuclear science. From 1972 until 1993, he held the Henry Ford II Professorship in Physics at Yale, and from 1970 to 1977, he served as chair of the Yale Physics Department.

Bromley was hailed as an outstanding teacher; from 1965 to 1989, his laboratory at Yale alone graduated more doctoral students in experimental nuclear physics than any other institution in the world. Bromley published over 500 papers in science and technology, and edited or authored twenty books. He received numerous honors and awards, including, in 1988, the National Medal of Science, the highest scientific honor awarded by the United States.

Bromley also felt that experiences outside the classroom were important and as a remedy he started the Sheffield Fellowship program, which began in 1996 and has included top executives of technology-oriented companies. Since the inaugural address by Coca Cola’s late CEO Roberto C. Goizueta ‘53BE that answered the question “Why Would Anyone Go to Engineering School?” Sheffield speakers have explored such topics as technology and politics, managing innovation, sustainable growth, and, of course – the target audience being current and future engineers – “Explosions, Crashes, and Collapses.” This particular lecture was delivered by Norman R. Augustine, then-president of Lockheed Martin Corporation, the aerospace conglomerate, and was highlighted by what Bromley called a “glorious set of technological disaster slides.” As the executive chronicled a lengthy career and discussed what he’d learned from these calamities, a student asked pointedly, “Why the hell weren’t you fired?” Augustine shook his head and conceded that he didn’t know the answer. In 2001 Bromley himself won a Sheffield Medal and gave a talk entitled “Science, Technology, and Politics”.

For more than two decades, Bromley was a leader in the national and international science and science policy communities. As chair of the National Academy of Science’s Physics Survey in the early 1970s, he was central to charting the future of that science in the subsequent decade. As president of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the world’s largest scientific society, and of the International Union of Pure and Applied Physics, the global coordinating body for that science, he was one of the leading spokesmen for U.S. science and international scientific cooperation.

The first person to hold the Cabinet–level rank of Assistant to the President for Science and Technology, Bromley oversaw a five–fold increase in both the staff and budget of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy between 1989 and 1993. He chaired and revitalized the Federal Coordinating Council for Science, Engineering and Technology, and he achieved an unprecedented level of cooperation and communication among the more than twenty federal agencies that support U.S. science and technology. He was responsible for the first formal published statement of U.S. Technology Policy and played a central role in expanding cooperation between the federal government and the private sector toward effective use of technology in U.S. society.

Bromley also chaired the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology and the Intergovernmental Council on Science, Engineering and Technology. During the Bush Administration, he testified often before Congressional committees and delivered more than 400 addresses to major audiences across the country and the world as the senior representative of American science and technology.

Prior to his appointment to the Bush Administration, he served as a member of the White House Science Council during the Reagan Administration and as a member of the National Science Board in 1988–1989.

Born in Westmeath, Ontario, Canada, Bromley received a B.Sc. degree with highest honors in 1948 in the Faculty of Engineering at Queen’s University in Ontario. For his graduate work in nuclear physics, he received an M.Sc. degree from Queen’s University in 1950 and a Ph.D. degree from the University of Rochester in 1952. He was subsequently awarded thirty–two honorary doctorates from universities in Canada, China, France, Germany, Italy, South Africa and the United States. He joined the Yale faculty as associate professor of physics in 1960, after beginning his academic career at the University of Rochester and serving as the Senior Research Officer and Head of the Atomic Energy of Canada, Ltd.

He was a member of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the Brazilian Academy of Sciences and the Royal South African Academy of Sciences. He was also Academician of the International Higher Education Academy of Sciences in Moscow and a Benjamin Franklin Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts in London. He was a member of the Governing Board of the American Institute of Physics from 1995 to 1998.

In 1997, Bromley served as president of the American Physical Society (APS). In that role, he coordinated the activities of 110 American scientific and technological professional societies representing more than 3.5 million scientists, mathematicians and engineers in support of continuing federal investment in academic science and technology. His leadership in building this coalition was unprecedented in scope and political influence. He also hosted and organized a meeting of the presidents of the major physical societies and regional societies worldwide for discussion of common problems and opportunities. Bromley also organized the APS Division of Nuclear Physics and was its first nuclear physics councilor.

In recognition of Bromley’s roles as a research scientist, an outstanding teacher, a supportive mentor and colleague, a leader of the physics community in this country and worldwide, and advisor to governments, the APS awarded him its 2002 Nicholson Prize.

He is survived by his wife, Dr. Victoria Sutton; his son, David Bromley; his daughter, Lynn Bromley; grandchildren Jennifer Elizabeth Bromley, Sarah Jane Bromley and Skylar Bromley Cohen; step–children, Summer Stephanie Sutton and Remington John Sutton; a sister, Dawn Anderson; and a brother, John W. Bromley of Westmeath, Ontario, Canada. He was predeceased by his first wife, Patricia Jane Bromley and his brothers, Ronald Bromley and Robert Bromley.

The D. Allan Bromley Scholarship for Undergraduates in Science is a tribute to Dr. Bromley’s dedication to undergraduate education at Yale University. Gifts in his memory may be sent to:

D. Allan Bromley Scholarship Fund
A.W. Wright Nuclear Structure Laboratory
Yale University
P.O. Box 208124
New Haven, CT 06520-8124

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