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Norman McCormick

Norman McCormick Professor Emeritus
  Faculty website


  • University of Michigan (PhD 1965)


I am a Professor Emeritus of Mechanical Engineering (since 2003) at the University of Washington. Earlier at the UW I was a Professor of Mechanical Engineering (1989-2003) and an Adjunct Professor of Oceanography (1996-2003) with an interest in optical oceanography. Before that I was a Professor of Nuclear Engineering at the UW (1975-89; Associate Professor, 1970-75; Assistant Professor, 1966-70).

My principal research activity has involved solutions of linear problems of transport theory. My work after about 1990 was on analytical methods for solving inverse radiative transfer problems for oceanic, atmospheric, and biological applications. The algorithms are best applied to problems involving only one spatial dimension, but do incorporate highly anisotropic scattering effects. Specific projects included the development of inversion algorithms for in-situ ocean measurements and for remotely sensing the optical properties of seawater and clouds, and the estimation of the optical thickness of clouds. Many of the inversion algorithms I developed were based on the eigenfunction expansion method for solving forward radiative transfer problems with the linear (Boltzmann) transport equation, an area where I did extensive research from 1964 to 1973.

In the area of probabilistic reliability and safety analysis of nuclear reactor systems I authored Reliability and Risk Analysis Methods and Nuclear Power Applications (Academic, 1981) and co-authored with John C. Lee Risk and Safety Analysis of Nuclear Systems (Wiley, 2011). I also did research on the method of gas tagging for the identification of failed fuel assemblies in nuclear reactors in the 1970s.

I was named a Fellow of the American Nuclear Society in 1985, an Outstanding Alumnus of the University of Michigan Department of Nuclear Engineering in 1986, and a Distinguished Alumnus of the University of Illinois Mechanical and Industrial Engineering Department in 1991.

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