Concise Encyclopedia of Tufts History

Sauer, Anne

Branco, Jessica

Bennett, John

Crowley, Zachary


Lane, Alfred Church, 1863-1948


Alfred Church Lane (1863-1948) was Pearson Professor of Geology and Mineralogy from 1909-36 and recipient of the Ballou Medal. Best known for directing research on the determination of the age of the Earth, he is also known by some atomic scientists as the "Forgotten Man" of atomic research for his role in early work on splitting the atom.

A descendent of Thomas Dudley, a founder and four-time governor of the Massachusetts Bay colony, Lane was born on January 29, 1863, in Boston and attended Boston Latin High School. After graduating from Harvard in 1883, he remained at the institution as a mathematics instructor. From 1885 to 1887 he studied at the University of Heidelberg, returning to Harvard in 1888 to receive his doctorate. The following year he worked as petrographer of the Michigan State Geological Survey and as an instructor in the Michigan College of Mines. He achieved the position of state geologist for Michigan before returning to the East Coast in 1909 to take up the position of Pearson Professor of Geology and Mineralogy at Tufts. He remained at the college until his retirement in 1936, at which time he became Pearson Professor of Geology and Mineralogy Emeritus. This action was in response to his decision not to subscribe to the state's teachers' oath. In 1940, he was the recipient of the Ballou Medal for distinguished service to education and the Nation, awarded by Tufts College.

Working with Otto Hahn, a German scientist, Lane helped to inaugurate an international plan for the exchange of scientific information on smashing the atom in the early 1920s. Lane was the first American to receive notice from Hahn about his successful splitting of a uranium atom in 1938, who immediately passed the information on to Washington. In 1929, Lane became the first consultant in science ever appointed at the Library of Congress. Over the course of his lifetime, he published 1087 articles and reports in both scientific and general journals. He was also a past president of the Geological Society of America and was affiliated with several international geologic and academic associations. He also supported the YMCA and was a dedicated servant of the Boy Scouts of America. A peleochoric amphibole mineral, known as Lanenite, is named for the scientist.

Lane Hall, home to the Geology Department and former headquarters of the Bouve-Boston School of Occupational Therapy and Physical Education was dedicated in Lane's honor in 1968. There is also a memorial tablet in Goddard Chapel.

Lane died on April 14, 1948 in Cambridge, Massachusetts. He was survived by his wife and three children, including Fredric C. Lane, G1922.

Source: VF

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  • The encyclopedia seeks to capture more than 150 years of Tufts' achievements, societal contributions and outstanding alumni and faculty in concise entries. As a source of accurate factual information, the Encyclopedia can be used by anyone interested in the history of Tufts and of the people who have made it the unique institution it is.
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Numeric Entries
Dame, Lorin Low, 1838-1903
Dana, Charles A., 1881-1975
Dana Laboratory, 1963
Daniel Ounjian Prize in Economics,
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Davies House, 1894
De Florez Prize in Human Engineering, 1964
de Pacheco, Kaye MacKinnon, ca. 1910-ca. 1985
Dean Hall, 1887-1963
Dean, Oliver, 1783-1871
Dearborn, Heman Allen, 1831-1897
Department of Anatomy and Cellular Biology, 1893
Department of Anesthesia, 1970
Department of Art and Art History, 1930
Department of Biochemistry, 1893
Department of Chemistry, 1882
Department of Community Health, 1930
Department of Dermatology, 1897
The Department of Economics, 1946
Department of Medicine, 1893
Department of Molecular Biology and Microbiology
Department of Neurology, 1893
Department of Neuroscience, 1983
Department of Neurosurgery, 1951
Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, 1893
Department of Ophthamology, 1893
Department of Orthopedic Surgery, 1906
Department of Otolaryngology, 1895
Department of Pathology, 1893
Department of Pediatrics, 1930
Department of Pharmacology, 1915
Department of Physics and Astronomy, 1854
Department of Physiology, 1893
Department of Psychiatry, 1928
Department of Radiation Oncology, 1968
Department of Radiology, 1915
Department of Rehabilitation Medicine, 1955
Department of Surgery, 1893
Department of Urban and Environmental Policy, 1973
Department of Urology, 1910
Dental Health Sciences Building, 1969
Dewick, Cora Alma (Polk), 1875-1977
Dewick/MacPhie Dining Hall, 1959
Dickson Professorship of English and American History, 1913
Dirlam, Arland A., 1905-1979
Dog Cart, 1900
Dolbear, Amos Emerson, 1837-1910
Donald A. Cowdery Memorial Scholarship, 1946
Dr. Benjamin Andrews Professorship of Surgery, 1987
Dr. Philip E. A. Sheridan Prize, 1977
The Drug Bust, 1970
Dudley, Henry Watson, 1831-1906
Dugger, Edward Jr., 1919-75
Durkee, Frank W., 1861-1939
Durkee, Henrietta Noble Brown, 1871-1946
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