Edward F. MacNichol

MBL Corporation member Dr. Edward F. MacNichol, Jr. died March 14 at Emerson Hospital in Concord, Massachusetts. Dr. MacNichol was an MBL alumnus, former course faculty member, a Library Reader, and Associates patron. In the 1970s and 1980s, he directed the MBL’s year-round Laboratory of Sensory Physiology. Dr. MacNichol built the world’s best photon-counting microspectrophotometer and did pioneering work on the biochemistry of color vision. In 1986 he became a professor of physiology at Boston University Medical School. He retired from the position at age 86.

Dr. MacNichol’s career in biophysics began under the auspices of H. Keffer Hartline, for whom he gathered data and designed instruments for his mentor’s model of a primitive vision system, for which Hartline received a Nobel Prize. Dr. MacNichol was subsequently instrumental in the establishment of the MBL’s H. Keffer Hartline Fellowship for Research, which enables young scientists to carry out research in sensory neurobiology at the Laboratory.

Dr. MacNichol received his A.B. in Physics from Princeton in 1941, and subsequently worked at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s radiation laboratory developing radar air tracking equipment during World War II. He studied at the University of Pennsylvania from 1946 to 1948, and received his Ph.D. from Johns Hopkins University in 1952. He subsequently taught at Johns Hopkins for 13 years. From 1968 to 1972 Dr. MacNichol directed the National Institute of Neurological Diseases and Stroke and was acting director of the National Eye Institute in Washington, D.C.

Dr. MacNichol is survived by his wife, Dorothy Thorne MacNichol, of Concord; his son, Edward MacNichol, III, of Maryland; daughter, Anne MacNichol Brownell, of Oak Bluffs, Massachusetts; children of his previous marriage to Anne Ayer MacNichol of Wenham, Massachusetts and their children, Edward MacNichol, IV, Laura Snyder, and Amber MacNichol of Maryland; Ian Brownell of Medford, Massachusetts; and Deirdre Brownell of Burbank, California.; and Dorothy’s children, Elizabeth and Telly Theodoropoulos, and Cam, Scott, David, and Duncan Thorn and their families. The family is planning a memorial service for Dr. MacNichol in late April.

Portions of this announcement where reprinted with permission from The Falmouth Enterprise.