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Department of Physics

Heads of the course and department

William Barton Rogers 1866-1868
Edward C. Pickering 1868-1877
Charles R. Cross 1877-1917
Edwin Bidwell Wilson 1917-1922
Charles Ladd Norton 1922-1930
John Clarke Slater 1930-1952
Nathaniel Herman Frank 1952-1961
William W. Buechner 1961-1966
Victor F. Weisskopf 1966-1972
Herman Feschbach 1972-1983
Jerome I. Friedman 1983-1988
Robert J. Birgeneau 1988-1991
Ernest J. Moniz 1991-1997
Marc A. Kastner 1998-2007
Edmund Bertschinger 2007-2013
Peter Fisher 2013-

Physics was taught at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology from the time classes were first offered in 1865. William B. Rogers, the founder and first president of MIT, was the first professor of physics. In 1869 Rogers established the “Physical Laboratory,” probably the first laboratory for instruction in physics in the United States. The lab was designed and equipped by Edward Pickering, the first director of the Rogers Lab. In 1872 the lab was renamed the Rogers Laboratory of Physics. Physics became Course VIII in 1873.

In 1882 the first course in electrical engineering in the United States was developed and administered within the Department of Physics. It became a separate department, Course VI, in 1902.

Prepared by the Department of Distinctive Collections, MIT Libraries
October 1995; updated 2014, April 2020