Gert Rempfer named AAAS Fellow
Author: David Santen, Office of University Communications
Posted: January 4, 2012

Gert Rempfer named AAAS Fellow

Posthumous honor recognizes physics pioneer’s contributions to electron microscopy

(Portland, Ore.) January 4, 2012 — Gertrude Fleming Rempfer of Portland State University (PSU) has been named a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).

Rempfer, who passed away October 4, 2011, at age 99, was elected for her enduring contributions in electron optics and in the implementation of aberration correction in electron microscopy. Election as a AAAS Fellow is an honor bestowed upon AAAS members by their peers in recognition of their scientifically or socially distinguished efforts to advance science and its applications.

This year’s 539 AAAS Fellows were announced in the AAAS News & Notes section of the journal Science on December 23, 2011, and will be recognized during the AAAS Annual Meeting, February 18, 2012, Vancouver, B.C., Canada. Stephen Kevan, professor and chair of the Department of Physics, University of Oregon submitted Rempfer’s nomination.

Gert RempferRempfer, known as "Gert," was a world-class physicist at a time when women were told —as she once was— that they should not take jobs away from men. She was a pioneer in electron optics who was most prolific after retiring from teaching at age 65, and who published, received grants, submitted patents, mentored graduate students, and won awards for her contributions to science well into her 90s.

Rempfer was also a mother and teacher as devoted to her family, students and ideals as she was to her research.

"She had a brilliance that you don’t find every day; she was a phenomenon," said Hayes Griffith, a professor emeritus at the University of Oregon who worked closely with her for a quarter-century.

Rolf Könenkamp, who holds the Gertrude Rempfer Endowed Chair in Physics at PSU, said Rempfer's main scientific contribution was her demonstration that a mirror can be used to correct aberrations and improve the resolution of electron microscopes. During Rempfer’s last decade of life, Könenkamp worked with her to build what he called "the best microscope of its kind in the world" at Portland State, based on her designs.

The Oregonian profiled Gert Rempfer's life and accomplishments in its November 28, 2011 edition (online at

PSU’s Department of Physics, in collaboration with the Oregon Nanoscience and Microtechnologies Institute (ONAMI), will host the inaugural Gert Rempfer Symposium on Electron Microscopy, January 27, 2012, from noon–6 p.m. at PSU. For more information, visit

The tradition of AAAS Fellows began in 1874. Currently, members can be considered for the rank of Fellow if nominated by the steering groups of the Association’s 24 sections, or by any three Fellows who are current AAAS members (at least two of the three sponsors may not be affiliated with the nominee's institution), or by the AAAS chief executive officer. Each steering group then reviews the nominations of individuals within its respective section and a final list is forwarded to the AAAS Council, which votes on the aggregate list.

PORTLAND STATE UNIVERSITY (PSU), a 50-acre campus located in downtown Portland, Ore., is a nationally acclaimed leader in sustainability and community-based learning. The University's position in the heart of Oregon's economic and cultural center enables PSU students and faculty to apply scholarly theory to the real-world problems of business and community organizations. Portland State offers more than 220 undergraduate, master's, and doctoral degree options, as well as graduate certificates and continuing education programs. PSU is Oregon's largest and most diverse university, with 30,000 students hailing from all 50 states and from nearly 100 nations around the world.

THE AMERICAN ASSOCIATION FOR THE ADVANCEMENT OF SCIENCE (AAAS) is the world’s largest general scientific society, and publisher of the journal, Science ( as well as Science Translational Medicine ( and Science Signaling ( AAAS was founded in 1848, and includes 262 affiliated societies and academies of science, serving 10 million individuals. The non-profit AAAS ( is open to all and fulfills its mission to “advance science and serve society” through initiatives in science policy, international programs, science education and more.

# # #


By: David Santen (503-725-8765,
University Communications, Portland State University
Source: Katharine Zambon (202-326-6434,
American Association for the Advancement of Science