Leland John Haworth

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Leland John Haworth
2nd Director of the National Science Foundation
In office
President John Kennedy
Lyndon Johnson
Richard Nixon
Preceded by Alan T. Waterman
Succeeded by William D. McElroy
Personal details
Born (1904-07-11)July 11, 1904
Flint, Michigan
Died March 5, 1979(1979-03-05) (aged 74)
Port Jefferson, New York
Nationality United States
Alma mater Indiana University
University of Wisconsin–Madison
Scientific career
Fields Particle physics
Institutions University of Wisconsin–Madison
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign
Brookhaven National Laboratory
Thesis Energy distribution of secondary electrons from molybdenum (1931)
Doctoral advisor Charles Mendenhall

Leland John Haworth (July 11, 1904 – March 5, 1979) was an American particle physicist. In his long career he was head of the Brookhaven National Laboratory, the Atomic Energy Commission, the National Science Foundation, and was assistant to the president of Associated Universities, Inc.[1]

Early life[edit]

Haworth was born in Flint, Michigan, although his parents were normally living in New York City at the time.[2] His parents were both teachers, and were Quakers. The family moved to Cleveland, Ohio in 1907 for a brief time, then to Newton County, Indiana in 1910. Haworth graduated with a masters degree in physics from Indiana University in 1926. He also played college baseball for Indiana, and even played in the semi-pros.[2]

In 1927 he married Barbara Mottier, the daughter of the chairman of the Botany Department at IU, and they had two children. He taught high school for two years while working on his father's farm.


After obtaining a scholarship, Haworth attended the University of Wisconsin and earned his Ph.D. in 1931.[3] He worked as an instructor there for six years, and began working on particle accelerators there in 1934. He then spent a year working at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1937. After his father died, he then took a new position as faculty at the University of Illinois.[2]


With the onset of World War II, Haworth assisted with wartime research at the MIT Radiation Laboratory, developing new radar systems. He was a member of the steering committee and helped to manage the laboratory. He also wrote large sections of the Radiation Laboratory Series, a highly regarded technical work. He joined the newly created Brookhaven National Laboratory in Upton, New York, in 1948, immediately taking a leadership role as assistant director for special projects. He became the full director the next year, and held that position until 1961. While there, he helped with the construction of many experimental apparatus, including the Cosmotron. The laboratory soon gained worldwide recognition as a premier research facility. He was also president and director of the American Nuclear Society.[2]

Atomic Energy Commission[edit]

In 1959, Haworth learned that he had colon cancer, and then in 1961 his wife died. A few months later he, along with Glenn T. Seaborg, was assigned by President John F. Kennedy to become commissioner of the Atomic Energy Commission. He accepted the position and worked long hours, soon heading the research of the AEC. He supported a ban on atmospheric nuclear testing, helping to develop the Limited Test Ban Treaty in 1963. He also traveled to Alaska to assist with Operation Chariot, a plan to use nuclear bombs in the construction of a harbor as part of Operation Plowshare, and met with various Inuit groups. The project was never carried out. Haworth wrote Civilian Nuclear Power–A Report to the President–1962, an influential public policy paper.[2]

National Science Foundation[edit]

In 1963, Haworth married Irene Benik, a secretary at the President's Science Advisory Committee. The next month, President Kennedy asked Haworth to direct the National Science Foundation. He tackled issues there such as Project Mohole, bringing new colleges into NSF research, and planning for the Very Large Array. He also assisted Congressman Emilio Q. Daddario draft an important NSF reorganization bill. In 1969, Haworth's term as NSF director ended, and he moved to Long Island, New York. He became a part-time assistant to the president of Associated Universities, Inc., a position he held until 1975, and was special consultant to the director of Brookhaven.[2] He is buried in West Newton Cemetery, West Newton, Indiana.[1]


  1. ^ a b Leland John Haworth at Find-a-Grave
  2. ^ a b c d e f Maurice Goldhaber and Gerald F. Tape, Leland John Haworth: A Biographical Memoir, National Academy of Sciences, 1985.
  3. ^ Haworth, Leland John (1932). Energy distribution of secondary electrons from molybdenum (Ph.D.). University of Wisconsin-Madison. OCLC 51566012 – via ProQuest. (Subscription required (help)). 
Preceded by
Alan T. Waterman
Director of the National Science Foundation
July 1963 - June 1969
Succeeded by
William D. McElroy