Skip to Navigation
University of Pittsburgh
Print This Page Print this pages

February 17, 2000

OBITUARY: George A. Jeffrey

The founder and first chairperson of Pitt's Department of Crystallography George A. Jeffrey died Feb. 13, 2000. He was 84.

Jeffrey was educated in his native England at the University of Birmingham, earning a B.Sc. in 1936, a Ph.D. in 1939 and D.Sc. in 1953.

He came to Pitt as a Fulbright visiting professor in 1950 and joined the faculty in 1953 as professor of chemistry and physics. Jeffrey directed Pitt's Crystallography Laboratory from 1960-1969. He also held a faculty appointment in earth and planetary sciences beginning in 1961. Named a University Professor in 1966, Jeffrey became the first chairperson of the newly formed crystallography department in 1969. Pitt's crystallography department was the first of its kind in the United States.

"Essentially, without Jeff, as everybody called him, there would not have been a crystallography department," said Jerome Rosenberg, research integrity officer in the Office of General Counsel and former dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences. "He was a giant in the field of crystallography. In fact, he was honored in several fields, including chemistry and physics."

Jeffrey also helped establish a faculty group to study academic computing, which previously was under the sole purview of the computer science department, Rosenberg said.

He retired from Pitt in 1985 as University Professor emeritus.

In addition to his academic work at Pitt, Jeffrey served as senior chemist at the Brookhaven National Laboratory, 1974-1976.

He was president of the American Crystallography Association and fellow of the British Institute of Physics. He held membership in both the American and British chemical societies.

Jeffrey served on the governing board and executive committee of the American Institute of Physics and was co-editor of the journal Acta Crystallo-graphica from 1973 to 1984.

Among numerous professional awards were two from the American Chemical Society: the Pittsburgh Award for Outstanding Service to Chemistry in 1978 and the Claude S. Hudson Award for Carbohydrate Chemistry in 1980. In 1983, he received the Senior U.S. Scientist Award from the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation in West Germany.

After retirement, Jeffrey won the 1988 M.J. Buerger Award of the American Crystallography Association and was a frequent lecturer around the world.

Last year, he received the Dr. David Harker Award from the Hauptman-Woodward Institute in recognition of his contributions to the advancement of crystallography.

Jeffrey is survived by his wife Maureen B. Jeffrey of Highland Park; daughter Susan M. Slevin of Fox Chapel; son Paul B. Jeffrey of New Providence, NJ; four grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren. His son-in-law, Dennis Slevin, is professor of business administration at the Katz Graduate School of Business.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests memorial contributions be sent to the ALS Foundation, 1323 Forbes Ave., Suite 200, Pittsburgh 15219.

Leave a Reply