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Katharine B. Gebbie (1932-2016)

Katharine B. Gebbie was the previous Director of the Physical Measurement Laboratory (PML) of the National Institute of Standards and Technology. PML supports industry, government and the scientific community by developing and disseminating the national standards for the International System of base and derived units (SI). It does so through a range of activities from fundamental research in measurement science to the provision of measurement standards and services.  

Dr. Gebbie graduated from Bryn Mawr College with a B.A. degree in physics and subsequently earned a B.S. degree in astronomy and a Ph.D. in physics from University College London.

She joined NIST in 1968 as a physicist in the Quantum Physics Division of JILA, a cooperative enterprise between NIST and the University of Colorado in Boulder. She worked extensively on the physics of the solar and stellar atmospheres.

Before being appointed Director of the newly formed PML in 2010, she served successively as Chief of the Quantum Physics Division, Acting Director of the Center for Atomic, Molecular and Optical Physics, and Director of the Physics Laboratory.

Dr. Gebbie was a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, a Fellow of the American Physical Society, and a Fellow of the Washington Academy of Sciences. She received several awards, including the Service to America Career Achievement Award, the Women in Science and Engineering Lifetime Achievement Award, and Department of Commerce Gold Medals.

Dr. Gebbie was serving as a Senior Advisor to the PML Director at the time of her death, August 17, 2016.

Katharine Gebbie


Past Director
Physical Measurement Laboratory