J. Ross Macdonald


J. Ross Macdonald
J. Ross Macdonald
Savannah, GA, USA
Associated organizations
Texas Instruments
IEEE Edison Medal


J. Ross Macdonald was born on 27 February 1923, in Savannah, GA. He received a B.A. in physics from Williams College and an S.B. in E.E. from M.I.T. in 1944. He served as a radar officer in the U.S.N.R. from 1944 to 1946, then returned to M.I.T., where he received an S.M:' degree in E.E. in 1947. After further graduate study in physics at M.I.T., he received a Rhodes Scholarship and attended Oxford University from 1948 to 1950. Oxford awarded him a D.Phil. degree in solid-state physics in 1950 and a D.Sc. degree, based on published papers, in 1967.

Dr. Macdonald worked at Armour Research Foundation from 1950 to 1952, at Argonne National laboratory from 1952 to 1953, and joined Texas Instruments in 1953. At TI he served as Director of the Physics Research laboratory; Director of the Central Research laboratories; Vice President, Corporate Research and Engineering; and as Vice President, Corporate Research and Development. While at TI, Dr. Macdonald was instrumental in building up the highly productive Central Research laboratories and has himself published over 175 scientific and engineering papers. Since August 1984, Dr. Macdonald has been William R. Kenan, Jr., Professor of Physics at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. He is also a science and engineering consultant and was a member of the Board of Directors of Simmonds Precision Products from 1979 until its acquisition by Hercules in 1983.

Dr. Macdonald is a member of both the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering. He has served on many government advisory committees and university visiting committees and has just completed a term as a member of the NAS Commission on Physical Sciences, Mathematics, and Resources. In 1986 he received the George E. Pake Prize of the American Physical Society, an award for combining original research accomplishments with leadership in the management of research in industry.

Dr. Macdonald is a Fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, has served on many of its committees, and has been the recipient of several awards from the IEEE and its predecessor, the Institute of Radio Engineers. He was awarded the 1988 IEEE Edison Medal "For seminal contributions to solid state science and technology, and outstanding leadership as a research director."

He is married to Margaret Taylor Macdonald, a genealogy and antiques expert, and they have three children, Dr. Nina Macdonald, a scientist at Bell Laboratories; Dr. Ross Macdonald IV, an international tax lawyer, and Taylor Macdonald, chief financial officer of Geovision. Dr. and Mrs. Macdonald have seven grandchildren. Dr. Macdonald enjoys science fiction, classical music, jogging, and writing computer programs.

Further Reading

J. Ross Macdonald Oral History