ICDD Awards - Distinguished Fellowship Award 1984

Howard F. McMurdie (1905–2004)

Howard F. McMurdie, affectionately known by friends and colleagues as Mac, received his BS in chemistry from Northwestern University, Illinois in 1928. That same year he began working at the National Bureau of Standards (NBS) in the Lime and Gypsum Section of the Clay and Mineral Products Division. He worked at NBS, now the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), for 75 years, making invaluable contributions to the X-ray community throughout.

In 1933, Mr. McMurdie was sent to Riverside, CA, to test cement used in the construction of the Boulder (now Hoover) Dam. In 1935, McMurdie returned to Washington to work in the Petrographic Laboratory, and conducted research on the phases in Portland cement, which began his lifetime interest in “Phase Diagrams.” While working at the Petrography Lab, Mr. McMurdie also invested his time in using X-ray powder diffraction for phase analysis of solids. In 1944, Mr. McMurdie was named Chief of the Crystallographic Section of NBS, a title which he held for 22 years.

Mac was one of the founding fathers of the Joint Committee on Powder Diffraction Standards. Then in 1953, he established an ICDD Research Associateship in the Crystallographic Section. For nearly 30 years, this Research Associateship funded research which led to important, widely-used powder diffraction patterns.

In 1966, Mr. McMurdie officially retired from NIST/NBS, but he remained closely involved in the X-ray community for the next 38 years. He was heavily involved in the production of powder diffraction patterns, and in 1975, Mac became an Editor for Ceramic Materials of the Powder Diffraction File (PDF). He was named a Distinguished Fellow of the ICDD in 1984, and he also served as a special consultant to the ICDD Board of Directors. The ICDD named a biennial award, the McMurdie Award, to honor his tremendous contribution to the organization and the Powder Diffraction File. The award recognizes distinguished work that improves the Powder Diffraction File in its function of identifying and characterizing materials.

Read more about the continually growing list of ICDD Distinguished Fellows.