Bruce Truman Ulrich was born in Berkeley, California, on May 7, 1940 to Albert A Ulrich and Jane Murdock, both faculty at the University of California at Berkeley,. Jane had a PhD in botany and conducted research in plant physiology. Albert was a Lecturer in Plant Physiology.
Some insight into the culture that Bruce was exposed to growing up can be gleaned from an excerpt from this memorial statement dedicated to his father, Albert by William W. Allen Robert S. Loomis Norman Terry Lawrence Waldron.
"Albert A. Ulrich, 1907-1994 Lecturer in Plant Physiology, Emeritus Plant Physiologist Emeritus in the Agricultural Experiment Station. Albert Ulrich's life ended on August 14, 1994 at his home in El Cerrito, California, at age 87, after several years of declining health. He was a highly productive and stimulating member of the former Department of Soils and Plant Nutrition and was internationally recognized for his development of plant analysis, using a combination of water culture and field plots, and for efficient mineral nutrition of a wide range of agricultural crops. Soil scientists and agronomists were greatly influenced by his insistence that the plant, not the soil, is the final authority on nutrient needs. Albert was born on September 7, 1907 in New York to parents who had recently emigrated from Alsace Lorraine. His father, a baker, moved west to Chicago, then to Amery, Wisconsin, and finally to Southern California, where he had bakeries in El Segundo and Azusa. Albert at an early age was given responsibility for making daily bread and pastry deliveries and expanding the list of customers on these routes. While attending Citrus Junior College, he worked for a citrus advisory laboratory that gave advice to growers on citrus cultivation, which perked his interest in plant nutrition, and stimulated his enrollment as an undergraduate at the University of California at Berkeley in 1928. He was graduated with a B.S. degree in plant nutrition in 1930 and received a Ph.D. in plant physiology in 1939. Upon graduation he was appointed Plant Physiologist in the Department of Soils at UC Berkeley. Although he formally retired in 1975, he maintained a vigorous research program until a short time before his death in 1994.'
"Albert, although very dedicated to his profession, was a well read individual with broad interests which included the functioning of financial markets, the demands of human population growth on food-production systems, travel and photography. He was an informed and conservative investor who was widely regarded for his financial sagacity, and his advice was valued by financial professionals, particularly where scientific issues were involved. He will be missed by his colleagues in the College of Natural Resources, and all others who knew him for his tenacious dedication to his profession, sage advice, and always positive philosophy about life. His generosity and desire to help others was further evident from his strong support and help with the research career of Jane, his wife and confidante for 55 years. He also was justifiably proud of the highly successful professional and scientific careers of his three sons, Bruce, Paul and Roger."
He was a National Merit scholar at California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, where he received his B.S. degree in physics with, honors in 1961. From a writeup about Bruce in Cal Tech magazine, 1961: "BRUCE T. ULRICH RI CKETTS Inquisitive Bruce, besides being a gung-ho physicist, has contributed considerably to his Caltech home, Ricketts House. His interest in Caltech academics has led to his position of Educational Policy Committee chairman. Bruce's ravenous appetite, resulting from such activities as tennis, mountain climbing. and skiing, has often left him hungry after student house meals. But the main part of Bruce's waking hours are spent in furthering his knowledge and understanding of Physics (snaking) . After this FLEMING year Bruce plans to attend graduate school for more work in his chosen field
In 1964, Bruce received the Ph.D. degree from Cornell University, Ithaca, N. Y., for research in high-energy particle physics, with a minor in astrophysics.
He returned to the California Institute of Technology as a Research Fellow to work in infrared astronomy with the 2.2 micron infrared sky survey until 1966. He then became interested in using superconducting Josephson junctions as detectors for far infrared and millimeter astronomy and began research at Ford Scientific Laboratory, Newport Beach, Calif. In 1968, he became Assistant Professor of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Texas, Austin. During theacademic year 1970-1971 he was on leave at the Ecole Normale Supérieure, University of Paris, Paris, France. His research included investigation of the physics of Josephson junctions and their application to far infrared astronomy. Dr. Ulrich wa as fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and member of the International Astronomical Union, American Physical Society, and American Astronomical Society.
Bruce married Janet Gretchen Jones in Indian River County, Florida, in August 16, 1967. They were diorced in 1968 in Bozeman, Montana.
From 1970 Physics Today, "Since the discovery of the Josephson effect, astronomers have been intrigued with the possibility of using junctions of two superconductors connected by a weak link to detect millimeter and submillimeter radiation from astronomical objects. Now Bruce T. Ulrich of the University of Texas has reported (at the American Astronomical Society meeting in New York last December) the first astronomical observations with a Josephson junction; he has observed the sun, moon and Venus. His group and other groups (at the University of California at Berkeley and at the State University of New York at Stony Brook) are testing several different ways of using Josephson‐type junctions in hopes of improving sensitivity."
Bruce explored further uses of Josepheson junction as a model of a neuron in Physics and Mathematics of the Nervous System. "A superconducting Josephson junction may be used to model the behavior of a biological neuron, but on a much faster time scale. I first list the properties of the biological neuron to be modeled, then introduce the Josephson effect, and finally describe how the properties of the Josephson junction model neuron correspond to the properties of the biological neuron. An important advantage of the Josephson, junction model neuron compared to the biological neuron is its speed. A Josephson junction model neuron functions on a 10-9 to 10-12 second time scale, whereas the biological neuron functions on a 10-3 second time scale."
Bruce held appointments at the University of Geneva and the Technical University of Munich.
Bruce Ulrich died in Germany on December 4, 2016. He is buried at El Camino Memorial Park in San Diego, Lawn, Freedom Terrace, lot 824, space B.
Acknowledgement:: Thanks to Bruce's cousin, Alanna Adams, and his brother, UCLA astonomy professor, Roger Ulrich, for information about Bruce's family and career.
Bruce T. Ulrich Photo Album
Bruce T. Ulrich Alcan Highway Trip, 1960