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Finding Aid for the Alexander Kolin Papers, 1929-1990
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The collection consists of correspondence (including letters from Albert Einstein), United States patents for Kolin's inventions, and awards.
Alexander Kolin, Emeritus Professor of Biophysics, inventor of the electromagnetic flow meter and of isoelectric focusing, for which he was a strong candidate for the Nobel Prize, died April 21, 1997, at his home in Los Angeles at age 87, from cancer. Kolin was born in Odessa, Russia, on March 12, 1910. Neither of Kolin's parents had a scientific orientation, be he showed an early aptitude, doing experiments at home, from the age of six. Famine, revolution and subsequent difficult conditions in Russia induced the Kolin family to leave. They moved to Berlin, Germany, in 1922, where Kolin rapidly learned the German language, and with great sacrifices by his parents, received tutoring in basic subjects to make up for his previous lack of educational opportunity. The study of physics became his passion, and Kolin was inspired by the galaxy of famous physicists in Berlin, including Einstein, Planck, Schrodinger, Hertz, and Nernst. Kolin studied at the Technische Hochschule in Berlin, completing his undergraduate studies in physics, and accepting an opportunity to do his doctoral work under Gustav Hertz, studying plasmas. In 1933, with his work barely underway, Kolin and his parents were stunned by the news of the Reichstag fire, and decided to leave Germany. They moved to Czechoslovakia, where Kolin enrolled at the German University of Prague, and chose a new thesis topic, which he finished in the record time of fourteen months. Soon thereafter, young Kolin immigrated to the United States to seek work. Through a mutual friend, Kolin met Albert Einstein, whom he impressed sufficiently to merit several letters of recommendation, which eventually helped Kolin find a position at the Michael Reese Hospital in Chicago, Illinois, where he worked by day and did independent research at night. During this time, he invented and began to develop the electromagnetic flow meter, initially applying it to the measurement of blood flow in animals. For the past fifty years, electromagnetic flowmeters have been widely used in medicine and industry. Kolin held various research and teaching positions in Chicago and New York before becoming Assistant Professor at the University of Chicago in 1946. There, he wrote a textbook on physics, discovered the phenomenon of elctromagnetophoresis, and invented isoelectric focusing, a laboratory technique that is widely used in biomedical research. Kolin moved to UCLA in 1956, to do both teaching and research, and retired in 1977 as Emeritus Professor of Biophysics. During this period, he invented endless fluid belt electrophoresis; received the prestigious John Scott Medal for his invention of the blood flow meter; and received the Albert F. Sperry Medal for flowmeter developments. In 1977, he received the Alexander von Humboldt Award from the Federal Republic of Germany. In retirement, he continued to pursue scientific research until physically unable. His wife, Renee who passed away in 2003, survived Professor Kolin. [Adapted from an obituary written by Professor Kolin's former graduate student, Dr. Nancy Wilcox, April 21, 1997.]
3 document boxes (1.5 linear ft.) 1 flat box.
Property rights to the physical object belong to the UCLA Library, Department of Special Collections. Literary rights, including copyright, are retained by the creators and their heirs. It is the responsibility of the researcher to determine who holds the copyright and pursue the copyright owner or his or her heir for permission to publish where The UC Regents do not hold the copyright.
COLLECTION STORED OFF-SITE AT SRLF: Open for research. Advance notice required for access. Contact the UCLA Library, Department of Special Collections Reference Desk for paging information.