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Scientific Pioneer, Presidential Adviser

  Alumni Profile  

Dr. Lee Alvin DuBridge ’22, an internationally known physicist who helped to develop radar during World War II, was president of California Institute of Technology. He led CalTech from 1946 to 1969, when President Richard Nixon appointed him White House science adviser. DuBridge retired from that position after 18 months but remained a member of the President’s Science Advisory Committee.

President Harry S. Truman had first named him to that committee in 1951, when it was new. The following year, President Dwight D. Eisenhower made him chairman, a position he held until 1958.

DuBridge was known as a gentle, unflappable man who moved CalTech from a waroriented program of secret military projects after World War II back into fundamental scientific interests. He also managed an extraordinary expansion of CalTech.

A native of Terre Haute, Ind., DuBridge graduated from Cornell with a degree in physics and received his advanced degrees at the University of Wisconsin, where he began his academic career. He also was a professor of physics at the University of Rochester and supervised the construction there of a cyclotron that produced the highest energy proton beam at the time. On leave from Rochester, he headed the radiation laboratory at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, which played a decisive role in keeping the Allies ahead in radar technology in World War II and established DuBridge as a brilliant scientist.

DuBridge was married to two Cornell graduates: Doris M. Koht ’21 who died in 1973, and Arrola Bush Cole ’31 whose first husband, Russell D. Cole ’22, was president of Cornell from 1943 to 1960. Arrola died in 1995, one year after DuBridge.

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