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College of Arts and Sciences|Diamond Jubilee -- 75th Anniversary

Lowell J. Burnett

Master of Science - 1967 - Physics

Doctor of Philosophy - 1970 - Physics

     In 1964, Lowell Burnett was one of just five graduate students in the UW Physics Department. When be left in 1970, there were more than 100 graduates.

     "During this time, everyone had ideas," he recalls now. "There were weekly evening seminars frequent department parties. The channels of communication were open, and ideas shared between students and faculty own produced creative solutions to problems. The atmosphere was incredibly stimulating and absolutely unique. It was the best of times." After leaving UW in 1970, he accepted a highly competitive Presidential Postdoctoral Fellowship at the Los Alamos National Laboratory. In 1972, he became assistant professor in the San Diego State University Physics Department. By 1978, he was a full professor, and served as department chair for eight years. His research has focused on developing new methods for detecting narcotics and explosives. He has been a technical consultant to numerous organizations, including the U.S. Congress's Office of Technology Assessment. In 1988, Burnett founded Quantum Magnetics, a high-tech firm employing some of the technology gained from his research. QM develops equipment for detecting narcotics, explosives, mines, and submarines. It also develops new magnetic methods for nondestructive evaluation, including a device that detects and studies corrosion and a scanty system to make solid rocket motors for the space shuttle more reliable. In addition, QM develops new magnetic sensors and new laboratory instruments to characterize the magnetic properties of materials. Burnett says the stimulating atmosphere of inquiry and discovery at UW shaped his life. "The faculty was young, opportunistic, and entrepreneurial. It was a time when anything was possible, and if you wanted it to happen, and planned and 'plotted' and really tried, it would."

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Diamond Jubilee Outstanding Alumnus

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