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Frank H. Field

by Susan J. Ainsworth
July 15, 2013 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 91, Issue 28

Frank H. Field, 91, a mass spectrometry pioneer and professor emeritus at Rocke­feller University, died on April 12.

Born in Keansburg, N.J., Field received a B.S. in 1943, an M.S. in 1944, and a Ph.D. in 1948, all in chemistry, from Duke University.

He taught at the University of Texas, Austin, first as an instructor and later as an assistant professor until 1952. He then worked as a research chemist at Humble Oil & Refining, in Baytown, Texas.

In 1966, Field joined Esso Research & Development in Linden, N.J., where he was promoted from group leader to senior research associate.

After joining Rockefeller University as a professor in 1970, Field was named the university’s first Camille & Henry Dreyfus Professor in 1988. He retired in 1989.

Field was renowned for his contributions to mass spectrometry and to the study of the reactions, energetics, and kinetics of gaseous ions. He helped develop mass spectrometry as a tool for the analysis of biological materials.

He was a member of the American Society for Mass Spectrometry, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, Phi Beta Kappa, and Sigma Xi. He was an emeritus member of ACS, joining in 1946.

In 1983, ACS established the Frank H. Field & Joe L. Franklin Award for Outstanding Achievement in Mass Spectrometry in honor of Field and the late Joe L. Franklin, his colleague at Humble Oil. Field received the award in 1988.

Field was a passionate amateur violinist and violist who played in chamber music groups and community orchestras.

He is survived by his wife, Carolyn; sons, Jonathan and Christopher; three stepdaughters; one grandson; and several stepgrandchildren.

Obituary notices of no more than 300 words may be sent to Susan J. Ainsworth at and should include an educational and professional history.


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