Jesse Beams was born December 25, 1898, in Belle Plaine, Kansas. Hiking several miles to attend school at a one-room schoolhouse, Beams eventually enrolled in Fairmount College in Wichita, Kansas, where he graduated with a bachelor’s degree in physics in 1921. Beams then attended the University of Wisconsin to complete his master’s degree, and then the University of Virginia for his doctorate degree. After he graduated from the University of Virginia (UVa), Beams was awarded a National Research Fellowship where he spent one year at UVa and the following year at Yale University. In 1928 Beams became an associate professor at UVa and in 1930, a full professor. During his time at UVa Beams developed the ultracentrifuge, which can separate different isotopes in elements. Beams was awarded the National Medal of Science and was made president of the American Physics Society. Beams was awarded many honors for his work, and developed many useful tools to help future physicists with their experiments. Beams died July 25, 1977, in Charlottesville, Virginia.
Entry: Beams, Jesse
Author: Kansas Historical Society
Author information: The Kansas Historical Society is a state agency charged with actively safeguarding and sharing the state's history.
Date Created: June 2012
Date Modified: January 2016
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