E. Ward Plummer ‘62
February 01, 2008
E. Ward Plummer holds the titles of Distinguished Professor of Physics at the University of Tennessee and Distinguished Scientist in the solid-state division of Oak Ridge National Laboratory. A member of the National Science Foundation and recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, he has authored or coauthored more than 300 publications and also directs the Tennessee Advanced Materials Laboratory.
With aspirations of working in the aerospace industry, Plummer graduated from Lewis & Clark with a bachelor’s degree in physics and went on to earn a doctorate in physics from Cornell University. He then went to work at the National Bureau of Standards (now the National Institute of Standards and Technology) in Washington, D.C. He stayed for five years before changing career paths and taking a position in the physics department at the University of Pennsylvania, where he focused on innovative applications for electron spectroscopy.
In April 2006, Plummer was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in recognition of his distinguished and original research achievements. He specializes in surface physics—investigating the electronic, magnetic, and structural properties of a material’s surface at the atomic scale. In addition to his work as a researcher, Plummer is also a celebrated teacher. Emulating his own mentors, who pushed him to succeed both in high school and at Lewis & Clark, Plummer strongly encourages his students to explore new directions and find fresh approaches.