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Karl Taylor Compton

Karl Taylor Compton was born on 14 September 1887 in Wooster, Ohio. He attended the College of Wooster and graduated cum laude in 1908 with a Bachelor's degree in philosophy. During his time as an undergraduate, he worked in a science laboratory to pay for his education. The experience stimulated his interest in the physical sciences and after graduating, Compton remained at Wooster as a graduate assistant and an elementary physics lab demonstrator. He earned a Master of Science degree in 1909 and went on to Princeton University in 1910. In 1911, Compton was awarded the Porter Ogden Jacobus Fellowship for the highest academic achievement in graduate school and in 1912 Karl Compton received his Ph.D summa cum laude. Compton became heavily involved in the scientific community during World

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War I. In 1917, he was sent to Paris as an associate scientific attache to the American Embassy. During this time, Compton realized the importance of science to wartime developments, a concept he stressed throughout his life. He also met other scientists and established relationships that would give Compton international renown.

In 1930, Compton became President of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). At MIT, Compton introduced his idea of cooperation between the university system and government in scientific research as a critical "public service" to industrial progress.

The National Defense Research Committee (NDRC) was created in 1940 and Compton was appointed as a member and chief of Division D. This particular division was made up of scientists and engineers dealing with detection systems such as radar and heat radiation. Throughout World War II he served on numerous committees relating to weapons technology and development.

Compton served on the Secretary of War's Special Advisory Committee on the Atomic Bomb and was named by President Truman as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff's Evaluation Board which was established to evaluate the testing of atomic weapons. In 1945, the Secretary of War created the Interim Committee and appointed Compton as member during the Manhattan Project. The purpose of the committee was "to study and report on the whole problem of temporary war controls and later publicity, and to survey and make recommendations on post war research, development and controls, as well as legislation necessary to effectuate them."

Karl Compton received the Medal for Merit in 1946, which is the highest civilian honor given by the US Army. He was awarded the Medal for "hastening the termination of hostilities," mostly through his research and development in radar systems. In 1947, Compton was awarded the Marcelles Hartley Medal for his contributions to the "wartime research effort." Karl Compton died in 1954.