Distinguished alumni

Frank Heemstra Distinguished Professional Achievement

After graduating from Northwestern Classical Academy in 1941 and Northwestern Junior College in 1943, Frank Heemstra, now deceased, served three years in the Asiatic Pacific Theater with the Navy. He completed his bachelor’s degree at Hope College and earned a master’s degree in physics at Iowa State University before joining the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory in Washington, D.C., as a research physicist. In his more than 31 years with the Naval Research Lab, Heemstra was involved in the development of long-range sonar systems, the study of sound propagation paths in the ocean and deep-ocean search techniques. He designed, built and operated a magnetometer system that was instrumental in the successful searches for the Navy’s lost nuclear-powered submarines, Thresher and Scorpion, and the French submarine, Euridice. As a sea-going scientist, Heemstra participated in many ocean-bottom search and surveillance missions and visited numerous countries and foreign ports.

Award year: 2003