Antiquarian Society Elects Three WPI Professors

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WORCESTER, Mass. -- Worcester Polytechnic Institute English Professor Kent P. Ljungquist, physics Professor Donald F. Nelson, and Assistant Provost for Special Programs Lance Schachterle have been elected to membership in the American Antiquarian Society. New members are elected by existing members for their interest in the advancement of historical research. Twelve U.S. presidents, Alexander Graham Bell, Daniel Webster and former WPI President George W. Hazzard are among the distinguished Americans who have been members of the society.

The AAS was founded by Isaiah Thomas, whose paper The Massachusetts Spy, was the voice of the Whig party during the American Revolution. Three nights before the Battle of Lexington and Concord, Thomas smuggled his printing press out of Boston and set it up in Worcester. He became the leading printer, editor, publisher and bookseller in the U.S. after the war and joined with a group of men who believed in the necessity of preserving historical material to found the society in 1812. Today, nearly three million books, pamphlets, broadsides, manuscripts, prints, maps and newspapers related to the history, literature and culture of the first 250 years of what is now the United States are preserved in its research library at 185 Salisbury St. The collections serve a worldwide community of students, teachers, historians, bibliographers, genealogists and authors. Ellen S. Dunlap is the organization's current president.

Ljungquist, of Jefferson, Mass., a faculty member since 1977, earned a bachelor's degree at Clark University, a master's degree at the University of Connecticut and a doctorate at Duke University. He is a specialist in American studies who has written extensively about Edgar Allan Poe and James Fenimore Cooper. His recent accomplishments include editing the Facts on File Bibliography of American Fiction (1987) and co-editing, with Schachterle, Cooper's The Deerslayer (1994). During a 1991 sabbatical at the Antiquarian Society he determined that an unsigned review of Poe's series on "Autography" that appeared in the Philadelphia Public Ledger in 1841 was, in fact, written by Poe himself.

Nelson, who lives in Worcester, Mass., earned his B.S., M.S., and Ph.D. in physics at the University of Michigan. He came to WPI in 1987 after a 27-year career at Bell Laboratories in Murray Hill, N.J., where he made fundamental contributions to the development of the laser, light-emitting diodes, optical communications, semiconductors and other critical achievements in modern electronics. His research interests include solid-state and optical physics, semiconductor superlattices, nonlinear properties of dielectrics in interactions with optical, acoustic and acousto-optical fields, and inelastic light-scattering. Nelson won the 1995 WPI Trustees' Award for Outstanding Research and Creative Scholarship.

"I've always had a strong interest in history and genealogy, so I was both pleased and surprised at my election to AAS," says Nelson. "AAS is Worcester's most unique organization and it's right next door to WPI. I began attending their lectures and participating in their activities almost from the day of my arrival in Worcester. It's an organization everyone should support--particularly academics."

Schachterle, of Worcester, Mass., joined the faculty in 1970 as assistant professor of English. He received his bachelor's degree from Haverford College, and his master's and doctorate from the University of Pennsylvania. He has published studies of Cooper, Charles Dickens and Thomas Pynchon. A member and former chair of the American Society for Engineering Education's Liberal Education Division, he received the 1995 Sterling P. Olmsted Award from that division for innovative contributions to the liberal arts within engineering education. As a WPI administrator he oversaw the development of the project program, helped develop the Global Perspective Program, and was involved in the establishment of the Massachusetts Academy of Mathematics and Science. In the early 1980s he and chemistry professor Stephen J. Weininger founded the Society for Literature and Science, a research society that promotes a multidisciplinary dialogue on the relationship of science, the humanities and the arts.