University of Michigan
News for faculty, staff and retirees

November 19, 2018

Obituary: Glenn Frederick Knoll

April 25, 2014

Obituary: Glenn Frederick Knoll

Topic: Obituaries

Glenn Frederick Knoll, professor emeritus of nuclear engineering and radiological sciences, has died.

Knoll received his Ph.D. at the University of Michigan in 1963 and was assimilated into the faculty of the university. A gifted teacher and brilliant researcher, he served as a mentor and role model for generations of students. Colleagues claimed they made careers out of Knoll’s innovative ideas by turning them into applications in their fields such as nuclear medicine, radiography, oil-well exploration, nuclear physics, environmental stewardship or homeland security. 


From 1979 to 1990, Knoll served as chairman of the Department of Nuclear Engineering, where, under his leadership, the size and prestige of the department matured to its current level. After returning to the faculty ranks, he initiated a new research field of room-temperature semiconductor radiation detectors and led this effort until tapped to serve as the interim dean of engineering for 1995 to 1996. He returned to his true calling, teaching and research, until his retirement in 2001. 

Knoll’s contributions have been widely recognized. He was inducted as a fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, the Institute of Medical and Biological Engineering and the American Nuclear Society. He was also honored with the ANS Glenn Murphy Award for Education, the ANS Arthur Holly Compton Award, the IEEE Career Outstanding Achievement Award and the IEEE Third Millennium Medal. 

He was a member of the National Academy of Engineering, and participated in the formulation of post-9/11 planning through ideas published in the NAE book “Making the Nation Safer.”

Knoll enjoyed the technical fraternity of colleagues and traveled internationally to participate in their lives. He served as an International Atomic Energy Agency reviewer of international programs and taught his radiation detection course on every continent but one. As editor of the journals of his field, he was universally known and respected. His textbook, “Radiation Detection and Measurement,” remains the standard reference of the field after four decades and is available in multiple languages. 

On the day of his death, Knoll was still as active as ever. He was reviewing proposals and writing white papers to meet imminent deadlines. He sent final ideas for the upcoming Symposium on Radiation Measurements and Applications, the international conference that he fathered nearly 50 years ago, and that still gathers in Ann Arbor.

“We have lost a legendary friend and colleague,” said David Wehe, professor of nuclear engineering and radiological sciences, College of Engineering.

Submitted by David Wehe, College of Engineering