Byron and Essie White Cohn Collection
Byron E. Cohn (1901-1993) was Professor of Physics and served as Chairman of the Physics Department at the University of Denver, Denver, Colo. His wife, Essie White Cohn (1902-1963) was Professor of Chemistry at the University of Denver from 1942-1963. They received undergraduate and masters degrees from the University of Denver and earned doctorates from the University of Chicago. Byron Cohn was instrumental in founding the Mt. Evans High Altitude Laboratory. Essie Cohn participated in several studies on the effects of high altitude on nutrition.
- Cohn, Byron Emanuel, 1901-1993 (Person)
Biographical / Historical
The University of Denver played an integral part in the lives of Byron Cohn and Essie White Cohn. They met while attending the University in the early 1920s, and both received undergraduate and masters degrees from the University. They married in 1926 while they were working on their Ph.D.'s from the University of Chicago as well as teaching at the University of Denver. Byron Cohn was Chairman of the Physics Department from 1943 until 1962. Essie Cohn was a Professor of Chemistry from 1942 until 1963. They spent almost four decades as professors – he in physics and she in chemistry – at the University. Both as teachers and researchers, the Cohns were committed to the enhancement of the science curriculum at the University.
Byron Cohn was born in Chicago on November 2, 1901. He received a bachelor's degree in chemical engineering in 1923 and a master's degree in 1924 from the University of Denver. He completed his Ph.D. at the University of Chicago in 1931. He was first hired by the University of Denver in 1926, as an instructor in physics. During World War II, Cohn was on the staff of the Naval Ordnance Laboratory in Washington, D.C. After the war, he returned to the University of Denver where he was chairman of the Physics Department from 1943 to 1962. He was chairman of the governing board of the Mt. Evans High Altitude Laboratory and was active in its facility at the top of Mt. Evans. He was involved in research on cosmic rays, and hosted an international conference on cosmic rays in 1949 at Echo Lake, near Mt. Evans, which brought together 150 of the world's top physicists.
Byron Cohn was a member of Phi Beta Kappa, Sigma Xi, Sigma Pi Sigma, and Phi Lambda Upsilon honorary societies, among others. He is listed in American Men of Science and Who's Who in America. He served as president of the Colorado-Wyoming Academy of Science and was a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and authored a number of papers in the area of physics.
After Essie White Cohn's death in 1963, he remained in his professorship at the University of Denver. In 1970, he retired with Professor Emeritus status. Cohn married Margaret W. Carney in 1968. He died December 30, 1993, survived by his wife and two stepsons.
Essie White Cohn was born March 23, 1902, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Her family moved to Denver when she was a girl, and she received her preliminary education in the Denver Public Schools. She received an A.B. in 1922 and an M.A. in 1923 from the University of Denver. She received her Ph.D. from the University of Chicago in 1936. She became an instructor in chemistry at the University of Denver in 1923, and was named assistant professor in 1931. Essie Cohn used the High Altitude Laboratory to conduct experiments on the effects of altitude on biochemical processes. During 1941 she was visiting professor of biochemistry at George Washington University School of Medicine. She returned to the University of Denver as professor of chemistry in 1942, a position she retained for the rest of her life. She was named University of Denver outstanding faculty woman for 1955, was elected university lecturer for 1961-1962, and was presented with the Distinguished Alumni Service Award in 1961.
Essie Cohn wrote numerous articles about her research. She served as editor of the Abstract Journal of the Colorado-Wyoming Academy of Science for three years, and was editor of The Iotan, the journal of Iota Sigma Pi, the honorary chemical society for women. She was a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and served as its first women vice president. She was a member of the American Chemical Society and several other academic and honorary societies. The Business and Professional Women's Club of Denver named her Woman of the Year in 1961. Essie White Cohn died March 3, 1963, and was survived by her husband, her mother and two brothers.
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