Dr. John F. Ollom (1923-2013) was the Robert Fisher Oxnam Professor of Science and Society from 1956-1988.
According to the Drew Gateway:
Ollom’s career in physics began when, as part of his WWII military service, he was a research assistant on the Manhattan Project in Los Alamos, New Mexico. He went on to earn a Ph.D. from Harvard University under the tutelage of Nobel Laureate John Van Vleck and served as an electromagnetic theory consultant to Bell Laboratories.
Ollom arrived at Drew in 1956 as its first physics professor. He was the sole member of the department until 1968, at which time he hired his former pupil Robert Fenstermacher ’65. The two worked side by side for the next twenty years and developed a life-long friendship. Recalling the first time his mentor – who always addressed students by their title and last name – called him “Bob”, Fenstermacher says, “It seemed to me a very special rite of passage.”
Ollom’s friends recall his keen interest in religion and the Civil War. He enjoyed weekly exchanges with colleagues Tom Oden, Henry Anson Buttz Professor of Theology and Ethics, Emeritus, and Jim O’Kane Professor of Sociology, Emeritus about current events. This self-described tertulia (social gathering of like-minded individuals) went on field trips ranging from Gettysburg to Brooklyn.
The John F. Ollom Prize in Physics at Drew was established by friends, family, and colleagues in 1989 to recognize Dr. Ollom’s retirement from the physics department