The Faculty History Project documents faculty members who have been associated with the University of Michigan since 1837, and the history of the University's schools and colleges. This project is part of a larger effort to prepare resources for the University's bicentennial in 2017. Find out more.

The Bentley Historical Library serves as the official archives for the University.


William C. Parkinson
Regents' Proceedings 268

William C. Parkinson, Professor of Physics in the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts, will retire from active faculty status as of May 31, 1988, after a long and distinguished career.

A native of Ontario, Professor Parkinson came to Ann Arbor in 1932, and became a naturalized citizen in 1942. He received his B.S.E., M.S., and Ph.D. degrees from The University of Michigan in 1940, 1942, and 1947, respectively. During World War II, Professor Parkinson was a research physicist at The Johns Hopkins University with duties for the Office of Scientific Research and Development that took him to Europe from 1943 to 1945. In 1947, he was appointed to The University of Michigan faculty as instructor of physics. He was promoted to assistant professor in 1948, associate professor in 1953, and professor in 1958. In 1952 to 1953, he was a Fulbright Research Scholar at the Cavendish Laboratory at Cambridge University, England.

As a junior faculty member, Professor Parkinson worked with colleagues and students on the 42-inch cyclotron. It became evident that a large accelerator was the key to progress in nuclear research when Professor Parkinson, together with Lawrence Jones, Kent Terwilliger, and other colleagues, proposed the construction of an 83-inch isochronous-cyclotron facility that was funded by the Atomic Energy Commission and by the state of Michigan. Professor Parkinson led the new cyclotron project in the construction, test, and research phases. His own experiments concentrated on nucleon transfer reactions, elastic scattering, multi-particle transfers, and heavy ion reactions. He also continued to refine and improve the new cyclotron and its energy analyzing system.

In the last decade, Professor Parkinson turned to his interests in biophysics. His most recent experiments have been on the response of mammalian cells to non-ionizing electromagnetic fields. He has contributed to implant surgery by showing that micropores created in plastic by nuclear fission fragments can increase the acceptance of implants by a host tissue. Professor Parkinson's work in biophysics continues.

Professor Parkinson guided many graduate students in their research; he taught electronics to undergraduate physics majors in a course that became famous. His many recognitions include fellowship in the American Physical Society and a term as president of the Michigan Sigma Xi. He has been a member of the Atomic Energy Commission and the Physics Advisory Panel of the National Science Foundation, chairman of the Bonner Prize Committee, and a consultant for the Oak Ridge and Los Alamos National Laboratories. Professor Parkinson's contributions to the University extended well beyond the department.

The Regents now salute this distinguished faculty member by naming William C. Parkinson Professor Emeritus of Physics.