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Stanley Hanna

Stanley Hanna

Deceased Faculty
May 17 1920 to Dec 27 2012

After a long illness, Stanley Sweet Hanna died December 27, 2012, in Palo Alto.

Stanley Hanna was born in Burma, May 17, 1920, the third child of missionary parents.  At the age of fourteen he was put on a ship and sent to this country for his education.  He lived at the Fannie Doane Home for missionary children in Granville, Ohio, where he attended high school and Denison University.  Stanley Hanna was awarded a Phi Beta Kappa his junior year and never earned less than a grade of "A" in his seven years of school in Granville.  He graduated from Denison in 1941 and entered graduate school at Johns Hopkins University where he earned a Ph.D. in physics in 1947, after one year in the army at Los Alamos during World War II.  For several years he was an instructor at John Hopkins and later a researcher at Argonne National Laboratory near Chicago.  From 1963 until his retirement he was a Professor of Physics at Stanford University.

During his freshman year at Denison Stanley met Jane Martin at an evening astronomy class.  They became college sweethearts and married five years later, on December 27, 1942.  Stanley and Jane had three children, two of whom survive, a son David and a daughter Susan; a son Peter died in 1992.  Stanley is also survived by four grandchildren and one great grandchild, and his loving wife of 70 years.

Stanley Hanna was a kind, honest, and gentle man.  He was a loving father, grandfather, and husband.  His was a life well lived.
A brief graveside service was held on Wednesday, January 3, 2013, 1:00PM at Alta Mesa Cemetery in Palo Alto.
An obituary appears in the April 2013 issue of Physics Today.

In the 2016-2017 academic year, The Stanley S. Hanna Visiting Professorship program was established in his memory.
An announcement from the Office of Development

I am excited to announce that the 2016 – 17 academic year inaugurates The Stanley S. Hanna Visiting Professorship program. This program will bring internationally renowned physicists to Stanford each year to teach and to lecture at the Applied Physics/Physics Colloquium. As always, these are technical talks directed towards the internal physics audience. Nonetheless, I hope some of you choose to join us for one or both colloquia next week and in February.

Warm regards,
Greg Gamble
Associate Director of Development for the Natural Sciences

Click here for Hanna Visiting Professors lecture details.

The Visiting Professorship honors nuclear physicist Stanley S. Hanna (1920 – 2012), who was born in Sagaing, Burma into a missionary family. Stan earned his BA at Denison University in Ohio, where he was elected to Phi Beta Kappa. His graduate studies at Johns Hopkins University were interrupted by a year in the US Army at Los Alamos Laboratory during World War II, after which he completed his PhD in physics under Gerhard Dieke. He taught at Johns Hopkins, carried out research at Argonne National Laboratory at the University of Chicago, and spent a year at Oxford University as a Guggenheim fellow. In 1963 he joined the physics faculty at Stanford, where he taught and conducted research until he retired in 1991.

Stan’s achievements, innovations, and pioneering insights into nuclear physics were acknowledged in many ways, including the chairmanship of the American Physical Society’s division of nuclear physics in 1976–77 and two research awards from the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation. Especially meaningful to him, though, were invitations from universities and institutions all over the world to share his expertise. Both Marburg University and the Max Planck Institute for Nuclear Physics welcomed Stan as a visiting researcher during his Humboldt Fellowships, and he enjoyed guest positions at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot in Israel, Osaka University in Japan, and the Strasbourg Nuclear Research Center in France, among others. He presented more than 100 invited lectures at conferences worldwide based on his 167 refereed journal articles. In these positions of teacher and researcher, as well as in his roles as advisor, colleague, consultant, and friend, Stan generously shared his knowledge, enthusiasm, and guidance. The Stanley S. Hanna Visiting Professorship makes it possible for Stanford to give similar recognition to world leaders in physics and enrich our students’ education with the most influential physics scholarship of the time. It is a fitting way to honor Stan Hanna’s legacy.

Stan’s son, David, who graduated from Stanford in 1967 with a degree in physics, and his wife, Robin, began the steps towards establishing the Stanley S. Hanna Visiting Professorship in 2015. Other members of the family are also contributing to the fund, including the late professor’s grandchildren. The Department of Physics, the School of Humanities and Sciences, and all of Stanford University are sincerely grateful for their generosity.


  • A.B., 1941, Denison University 
  • Ph.D., 1947, Johns Hopkins University 
  • Instructor, Johns Hopkins University, 1946-49 
  • Assistant Professor of Physics, Johns Hopkins University, 1949-55 
  • Physicist, Argonne National Laboratory, 1955-60 
  • Senior Physicist, Argonne National Laboratory, 1960-63 
  • Professor of Physics, Stanford Univeristy, 1963-present (Emeritus, 1991)
  • Guggenheim Fellow, Oxford University, 1958-59 
  • Alumni Citation, Denison University, 1966 
  • Visiting Scientist, Weizmann Institute, Rehovot, Israel, 1969-70 
  • Honorary Doctorate, Denison University, 1970 
  • JSPS Visiting Professor, Osaka University, Japan, 1972 
  • Visiting Professor, Canberra 
  • University of Melbourne, Australia, 1975 
  • Alexander von Humboldt Award, Max Planck Institute, Heidelberg, 1977 
  • Fellow, Institute for Advanced Study, Indiana University, 1983 
  • Visiting Scientist, Center for Nuclear Research, Strasbourg, 1984 
  • Honorary Visiting Professor, University of Manchester, 1989