Professor Frank Firk, the son of a baker, was born in the East End of London in the Great Depression. During The War, he was evacuated from the inner city and lived with no fewer than five different foster families. He attended the Coopers’ Company’s School, founded in 1536 where, in his final year, he was appointed Captain of the School. He was drafted into the Royal Air Force and served for two years as an Air Wireless Mechanic. Although qualified to attend University, he got married and began work at the Atomic Energy Research Establishment, Harwell in southern England. He assisted in carrying out experiments in the field of low-energy neutron spectroscopy, designing apparatus, electronics, and maintaining the Electron Linear Accelerator. He attended the Oxford Polytechnic (essentially an external college of the University of London) one day per week and completed his Physics degree in three years. In 1958 he passed the Graduateship Examination of the Institute of Physics after years of self-study. He then was promoted to the rank of Senior Scientific Officer and was able to carry out independent research. In 1960, he was sent to the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee as a representative of UK Nuclear Physics where he continued to do original work with his American colleagues. After his return to Harwell he set up a new program of research in the field of Nuclear Photodisintegration. This work gained widespread recognition, and resulted in being appointed to the Department of Physics at Yale University. As an external, self-taught student, he obtained the University of London degrees of M. Sc. and Ph. D. He was promoted to a Full Professorship at Yale in 1977. He served in numerous administrative positions during his time at Yale, including the Mastership of Trumbull College in the 1980’s. Since retiring in 1999, he has written six papers and published six books. His wife of 62 years taught Yoga to many persons, young and old at Yale, and at recreational centers in local towns. They have three sons and a grandson.
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Professor Firk is an Emeritus Professor of Physics, former Chairman of the Department, Director of the Electron Accelerator Laboratory and Master of Trumbull College, Yale University
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