February 24, 1892–June 3, 1978
BY JOSEPH F.MULLIGAN
KARL F.HERZFELD, BORN in Vienna, Austria, studied at the university there and at the universities in Zurich and Göttingen and took courses at the ETH (Technical Institute) in Zurich before receiving his Ph.D. from the University of Vienna in 1914. In 1925, after four years in the Austro-Hungarian Army during World War I and five years as Privatdozent in Munich with Professors Arnold Sommerfeld and Kasimir Fajans, he was named extraordinary professor of theoretical physics at Munich University. A year later he accepted a visiting professorship in the United States at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland. This visiting position developed into a regular faculty appointment at Johns Hopkins, which he held until 1936. Herzfeld then moved to Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., where he remained until his death in 1978.
As physics chairman at Catholic University until 1961, Herzfeld built a small teaching-oriented department into a strong research department that achieved national renown for its programs in statistical mechanics, ultrasonics, and theoretical research on the structure of molecules, gases, liquids, and solids. During his career Herzfeld published about 140 research papers on physics and chemistry, wrote