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June 7, 2016

1927 Inventor of the Black Light Graduates from UCM - William H. Byler

The inventor of the black light was William H. Byler whom graduated from UCM in 1927 with a double degree in physics and chemistry. He was a prolific inventor in the luminescent materials industry. 
Science Building at UCM, then State Normal #2 Warrensburg, MO
William H. Byler is credited with inventing the black light in 1935, and according to the University of Central Missouri, Byler graduated there in 1927 with a major in chemistry and physics. By 1937, he had earned his doctorate at the University of Missouri, and went to work for General Electric Corporation as a research scientist. After two years at GE, Byler became director of research at the U.S. Radium Corporation. At U.S. Radium, Dr. Byler was awarded several patents over the course of a 32-year history.
During World War II, Dr. Byler was instrumental in radar and infrared spectrum research because of his study of phosphors allowing our Allies to win the war. Air travel is much safer today because of this early radar. His contributions to medical science have resulted in technology that has reduced our exposure to harmful x-rays. And our environment has benefited from Dr. Byler's work with detection methods such as atmospheric pollution and weather forecasting, based again on radar.
Dr. William H. Byler devoted his entire life to the study of luminescent chemicals which paved the way for many advances in technology then and now. These phosphors are used to coat the glass of many different kinds of screens.
Remembering Blacklight Inventor William Byler
By Mike GreifeThe award was created due to the foresight of a UCM alumnus who, despite his modesty, created his own legacy after leaving UCM and entering the field of scientific research and development. William F. Byler embodied the values he aspired to instill in UCM faculty by establishing the award.Midway through each spring semester, the UCM campus community awaits the announcement of the highest honor afforded a member of the university's faculty, the William F. Byler Distinguished Faculty Award. First presented in 1982, the award was established to annually encourage outstanding scholarship in teaching.
A graduate of Prairie Home (MO) High School, Byler enrolled in UCM, where he was initiated into the campus chapter of Sigma Tau Gamma fraternity in 1925 and received a bachelor's degree in chemistry and physics in 1927. He studied with Wilson C. Morris, a man whose influence he helped document as chairman of the editorial board of Teacher Immortal, a biography of the UCM professor emeritus.
Following a brief stint teaching high school algebra, Byler earned master's and doctoral degrees from the University of Missouri, where he began his lifelong research in luminescent chemicals, a fascination that gained him worldwide acclaim.
After joining General Electric Corp. as a research scientist in 1937, Byler became director of research for the U. S. Radium Corp. in 1939, where he spent his career developing phosphorescent and fluorescent chemical applications. His work resulted in a number of patents, including one for the blacklight.
William Byler visits with Charles Kuhn, left, and Russell Coleman, right, after they receive the Byler Award in 1983. Kuhn and Coleman have since retired. 2009 Story Today UCM Alumni Magazine

William Byler visits with Charles Kuhn, left, and Russell Coleman, right, after they receive the Byler Award in 1983. Kuhn and Coleman have since retired.
During World War II, research by Byler included new phosphors for radar screens and oscilloscopes. Infrared phosphor led to the development of the Snooperscope, an electronic viewing device that allowed users to see objects in the dark. Byler's work expanded into development of chemical applications for x-ray equipment used throughout the medical profession.
Following the war, he found new applications for the company's products by expanding into development of phosphors for television tubes, later directing the intense study of Rare-earth activated phosphors that led to the development of improved color television picture tubes.
He rose through the ranks at U. S. Radium Corp., accepting increased responsibility for both research and production. He was named vice president for chemical research and operations in 1951 and senior vice president six years later. He retired in 1971, but remained active with the company as a director and consultant until 1978. He continued independent research, receiving his last patent in 1984.
The 2009 Byler Award recipient Eric Honour knows something about inventions but in the world of music. The associate professor's creative compositions that merge the saxophone and electronics in unique sounds have led to his performances throughout the world.

Dr. Byler is (was) my great, great uncle and now, I am also Dr. Byler and the first female Ph.D. in our family. I was very happy to come across this article, of course, it is very heartwarming to read about my uncle's wonderful contributions to science and society. I only hope I can live up to his example! :-) Thank you, Dr. Stefanie Byler. 

I found the article lacking- is Mr. Byler still living? Who actually presents the award or makes the decision of who receives it? What about this year's recipient; there was only one sentence about him. The article seemed to come to an abrupt ending. 
Editor's Note: Space limitations always dictate our editorial decisions. With this feature, we wanted to showcase the achievements of the person who started the university's highest award for faculty achievement. Mr. Byler died in 1985. The president's office presents the award annually, which in 2009 went to Eric Honour. More about him is available here.

I was unaware of this contribution. Seems like more info like this should be given to prospective students.

I always love hearing about our past. Through it we can see where we are going.

1 comment:

Lydia DonCarlos said...

William Byler was also my great uncle. I never knew him, but heard stories about him from my father, Lyle, and from his sisters, Berenice (my grandmother) and Aunt Francis. I earned my PhD in neuroscience in 1985, and have had a full career in research and teaching. It's interesting to learn that another female relative (whom I have not met, and I am guessing is younger than I am, since she's a great, great niece), also went into research!