Phelps, Earle

Earle Bernard Phelps

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

In recognition of a lifetime of pioneering leadership in public health and sanitary science.

Earl Bernard Phelps (1876–1953), born in Galesburg, Illinois, professionally trained at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, a dedicated student of William T. Sedgwick, gave a lifetime in exploring, discovering, teaching and applying natural sciences to save mankind from the hazards of biological, physical and chemical factors of environment. A gifted teacher, he shared generously his wealth of knowledge and experience with a multitude of associates and students.

He was bacteriologist with the Massachusetts State Department of Health at the Lawrence Experiment Station for four years. He was for 15 years in the Sanitary Research Laboratory at his Alma Mater, the last five of these as associate professor. He was for five years with the US Geologic Survey, and at the Hygienic Laboratory of the US Public Health Service for six years.

Then he became Professor of Sanitary Science at Columbia University for 18 years until his retirement in 1943, after which he was a research engineer at the University of Florida at Gainesville until his death. His major contributions to the science and practice of public health were in water chlorination, stream pollution indices, sewage treatment and disposal, aerial sanitation, milk pasteurization and reconstruction, and shellfish control.

His Public Health Engineering volume is an educational classic. Charming modesty marked Earle Phelps's life of distinction.