Charles Hooper


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Professor Charles Hooper came to the University of Florida in 1963 and was a selfless advocate for the Department of Physics over the next 39 years. As Chairman from 1979 to 1986, he initiated a new phase of growth in the department through his statewide Microfabritech program, which provided the foundation for much subsequent expansion and improvement. His advice, vision, and unwavering support of the Department are sorely missed, as is his cheerful and optimistic presence in the hallways.

Chuck, as he was known to his friends, was born in Cambridge, MA, in 1932 and graduated from Dartmouth College in 1954. He served two years in the U.S. Navy before attending graduate school at Johns Hopkins University. He received his Ph.D. in 1963 and was appointed as Assistant Professor at the University of Florida. During his early years at UF he worked on plasma physics problems related to spectral-line broadening. In particular, he was noted for the first quantitative prediction of electric field distributions in plasmas required for analysis of hydrogenic spectra in laboratory and astrophysics observations. During this time, he also graduated the first of his seventeen Ph.D. students.

In the early 1970s, Chuck recognized the importance of laser fusion and became a strong proponent of investment in this area at US national laboratories. He emerged as a leader in the field through his continuing work on spectroscopy as the primary diagnostic tool for laser-produced plasmas. Chuck served on several advisory panels at Lawrence Livermore Laboratory and Los Alamos National Laboratories, and also co-organized a series of conferences on atomic processes in dense plasmas. From 1974 to 2002, his research was supported continuously by the Department of Energy.

Chuck participated in a period of growth in the Department during the 1960s, with many new appointments being made under a Centers of Excellence grant. Even as an Assistant Professor, he led many of the initiatives. This was followed in the 1970s by a period of recession in physics at the University of Florida and elsewhere. Chuck led the recovery at UF, establishing new directions and setting higher levels of expectation during his term as Chairman between 1979 and 1986. Limited resources did not imply limited vision for him. Instead, much of his excitement stemmed from the ability to think on a scale beyond what seemed possible and then to generate the enthusiasm and necessary ingredients for realization of long-range goals. Perhaps his most significant success as Chairman was the establishment of the cross-disciplinary Microfabritech program, which brought significant funds and faculty lines to many departments both at the University of Florida and at Florida State University. A Distinguished Service Award from the National High Magnetic Field Laboratory in 2000 recognized Chuck's role as the founder of Microfabritech.

Chuck Hooper's contributions to the Physics Department affected the careers of faculty, staff, and students alike. Along the way, strong personal bonds of affection, beyond appreciation and gratitude, were established. These memories will persist for a long time, as will the impact of Chuck's deeds.

Professor Hooper died in 2002, leaving his wife, Renate, his two daughters, and five grandchildren. Through the generosity of family, friends, and colleagues, a fund was endowed to allow the presentation each year of an award to an outstanding graduate student in the Department of Physics.