BURTON J. MOYER WAS BORN in 1912 in Greenville, Illinois, where his father was professor of chemistry at Greenville College. He was greatly influenced by his parents, both deeply religious persons, who instilled in him a great sense of responsibility and service. Moyer received his undergraduate degree at Seattle Pacific College and completed his Ph.D. in physics at the University of Washington in Seattle in 1939.
He returned to Greenville College as professor of physics but was soon lured to Berkeley to work under Ernest Lawrence in the growing field of radiation physics. After joining the Radiation Laboratory in 1942, Moyer initially worked on the separation of uranium isotopes; his research eventually encompassed topics in both nuclear and high-energy physics. A series of papers soon established him as one of the world's leading highenergy physicists. Perhaps his best known paper, "High Energy Photons from Proton Nucleon Collisions" (1950), announced the discovery of the neutral pi meson—a milestone in the field of particle physics.
Moyer did not sequester himself away in the lab, however. He enjoyed teaching, particularly mechanics, and was appointed associate professor in the physics department in 1950 and professor in 1954. He directed the thesis research of 62 students, generating a steady stream of important papers. In both his writing and lectures, Moyer was notable for his clarity, precision, thoroughness, and expert analysis.
MOYER'S OUTSTANDING INTELLECT and sense of ethical responsibility made him uniquely well suited to respond when, in 1947, Lawrence requested that he establish a professional health physics group at the Rad Lab (now Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory). The successes of early proton synchrotrons had led to a radiation crisis that needed prompt attention—technically difficult work that was of vital importance for the safety of his colleagues.
Moyer accepted the challenge, and established a standard that would be adopted by accelerator laboratories around the world, as independent health physics groups consulted with accelerator designers on matters of radiation safety. In 1962, he successfully installed shielding at the Bevatron designed to reduce radiation intensities by a factor of 100. This "Moyer Model" subsequently served in the design of many accelerator shields.
Moyer continued to direct the health physics activities at the Laboratory until 1970. Throughout his tenure, he made significant decisions that shaped the health physics profession. His research and publications led in large measure to present understanding of radiation protection problems; he was a key figure in establishing the dosimetry of accelerator radiation fields and in developing modern radiation transport codes.
IN SPITE OF HIS HEAVY COMMITMENT at the Laboratory, Moyer was active on several campus committees as well as on the Statewide University Radiological Safety Committee (1959–60). In 1962, he accepted the chairmanship of the physics department at Berkeley and became a trusted administrator who successfully weathered the campus tumult of the 1960s. "At the time of the worst student unrest, he was one of a handful of people who managed to gain the confidence of both the administration and of the rebellious students," recalled Emilio Segrè in 1993.
Moyer was an elder in the Presbyterian Church and had wanted to spend time in missionary work in China. Although various events prevented this, in 1965 he traveled to the India Institute of Technology at Kanpur, where he spent a year teaching, aiding the research program, and helping to create a viable technical school.
In 1968, Moyer retired from the physics department chairmanship and returned to research and teaching, as well as to work with the National Science Foundation and Atomic Energy Commission. In 1971, he accepted the position of dean of the College of Liberal Arts at the University of Oregon, where his sound judgment and good humor helped guide the University through that institution's worst budgetary crisis. He died in Eugene, Oregon on April 21, 1973.
AS A SUPERVISOR, MENTOR, and friend, Professor Moyer was admired as a man of generous and serene goodwill and absolute integrity. The Burton J. Moyer Fellowship honors his legacy of service to our fellow men everywhere.