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Walter C. McCrone

Dr. Walter McCrone was a leader in the fields of optical microscopy, crystallography, ultramicroanalysis, and particle identification for over 50 years. He was born in Wilmington, Delaware on June 9, 1916, but grew up primarily in New York State. After completing his undergraduate degree (Chemistry) in 1938 followed by a graduate degree in 1942 at Cornell University, McCrone began 2 years of postdoctoral research in chemistry, specializing in chemical microscopy. In 1944 he joined the former Armour Research Foundation, now the Illinois Institute of Technology Research Institute, where he developed and supervised the analytical chemistry services and became assistant chairman of the chemistry department.

McCrone founded McCrone Associates, in 1956, as an association dedicated to research in microscopy, ultramicroanalysis, and crystallography. The purpose of the program was to apply the most modern methods available to hone the complex tools of optical and electron microscopy to solve many problems of both government and industry. Over the years McCrone Associates has grown from a one man/one microscope facility to an internationally recognized research institute serving more than 2000 clients each year.

In 1960, McCrone founded the McCrone Research Institute in Chicago, a non-profit corporation devoted to fundamental research and teaching optical and electron microscopy and crystallography. Over the past forty years, the Institute has hosted over 20,000 students in all facets of microscopy, and has been expanded to include McCrone Scientific, a sister organization headquartered in London, England. The McCrone Research Institute remains one of the prominent centers of excellence for microscopy in the world.

During the course of his 60-year career in microscopy, Dr. McCrone published over 600 technical articles, including 16 books and chapters. He was the editor and publisher of the international applied journal in microscopy, The Microscope for over 30 years. Originally launched by Arthur Barron in 1937, this scientific journal is dedicated to the advancement of all forms of microscopy for the biologist, mineralogist, metallographer, and chemist. The journal publishes original, previously unpublished, works from the microscopical community and serves as the proceedings of the Inter/Micro microscopy symposia held in Chicago each year. It emphasizes new advances in microscope design, new accessories, new techniques, and unique applications for the study of fibers, particles, films, and surfaces of all materials, whether inorganic, organic, or biological. McCrone's best known publication, The Particle Atlas, appeared in a six-volume second edition in 1973-1979 and an updated CD-ROM version in 1992. This work is recognized as one of the best handbooks available for solving materials analysis problems.

McCrone's acclaimed work with the Shroud of Turin received world-wide attention in 1978 when he concluded that the Turin Shroud is a medieval painting. This observation was vindicated by radioactive carbon-14 dating techniques in 1988. In 2000, McCrone received the American Chemical Society National Award in Analytical Chemistry for his work on the Turin Shroud and for this enduring patience for the defense of his work for nearly 20 years.

During his remarkable career, McCrone received many honors and awards. At the invitation of the American Chemical Society, McCrone lectured for over 50 years on various topics in microscopy and has received numerous awards. In 1979 McCrone retired as active president of McCrone Associates in order to spend full time in research and teaching.


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