In Memory

Remembering Ralph R. Jacobs and Edmond M. Reeves.

Ralph R. Jacobs



Ralph R. Jacobs, an OSA Fellow who had a long career as a laser scientist at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) in Livermore, Calif., U.S.A., died in his sleep at home on August 29, 2008. He was 65.

Jacobs received his undergraduate education at New York University and his Ph.D. in physics from Yale University. He began his professional career at LLNL in 1972 after three years on the technical staff at GTE Laboratories. He worked at LLNL from 1972 to 1980 and again from 1990 to 2008. Jacobs spent the decade of 1980 to 1990 at the San Jose, Calif.-based Spectra-Physics, Inc., where he was involved in the development of advanced solid-state lasers. He served as an engineering leader for Spectra’s laser products division and later as the firm’s chief technologist.

At LLNL, Jacobs worked on solid-state and excimer laser research topics in the early days of the Laboratory’s Laser Program. As a senior physicist and project manager, he focused on developing laser sources for fusion and laser isotope separation programs. After his return to LLNL in 1990, Jacobs served as the director of the Laser Program’s New Technology Initiatives effort and later as the director of the Intellectual Property Office. He worked for seven years in what was then known as the Physics and Advanced Technologies Directorate. Most recently, he served for two years as the chief technologist for the Laboratory’s Industrial Partnerships Office (IPO), where he spearheaded an initiative to forge relationships with business schools in the greater Bay Area.

Jacobs is remembered by his LLNL colleagues as “an energetic and enthusiastic researcher who had an excellent understanding of what was required to make a technology a commercial success.”

An OSA member since 1983, Jacobs was selected an OSA Fellow in 1991. He was also a Fellow of the American Physical Society (APS), a Fellow the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), and a recipient of an award for excellence in technology transfer from the Federal Laboratory Consortium. During his career, he published more than 50 articles and received six patents for laser-related developments.

Jacobs died just one week after retiring from LLNL on August 21, 2008. He is survived by his fiancée, Esther Ailor, two daughters and two grandchildren. His wife, Leedia Gordeev Jacobs, died in 1999. As a memorial, his daughters plan to establish an educational fund in his name.

Edmond M. Reeves


Edmond M. Reeves, an OSA Fellow and retired chief scientist with NASA, died August 8, 2008, of cancer in Arlington, Va., U.S.A. He was 74.

Reeves joined NASA in 1982. He served as chief of the astrophysics payloads branch on space shuttle efforts and as chief scientist for NASA’s space station unit. From 1993 until his retirement in 1998, he was deputy director and later director of the Flight Systems Office, where he was responsible for planning and coordinating science operations for many missions, including Spacelab, commercial space programs and U.S. experiments performed on the Russian Mir space station. He also was a scientific leader for NASA’s International Space Station research facility and was executive secretary of the Space Station Utilization Board.

Reeves received bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees from the University of Western Ontario. His Ph.D., which he received in 1959, was in atomic and molecular physics.

He was a senior research associate at the Harvard College Observatory for 17 years before moving to the National Center for Atmospheric Research’s High Altitude Observatory in Boulder, Colo., U.S.A. At both places, Reeves often worked on scientific projects for NASA.

Reeves was a Fellow of the Optical Society of America and the American Physical Society and a member of many professional organizations, including the International Academy of Astronautics, International Astronomical Union and American Astronomical Society. In 1974, he received NASA’s Exceptional Scientific Achievement Medal. He is survived by his wife of 52 years, Vivian L. Reeves, two children and three grandchildren.

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In Memory

Remembering Ralph R. Jacobs and Edmond M. Reeves.

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