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Thomas Jefferson High School Alumni Association

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W. E. Moerner '71

09/16/2013 11:30 PM | Thomas Jefferon High School Alumni Association (Administrator)

W. E. Moerner '71 is a Professor of Chemistry at Stanford University. W.E. participated in many activities at Thomas Jefferson High School, including: Band, Speech and Debate, Math and Science Contest Team, Bi-Phy-Chem, Masque and Gavel, National Honor Society, Boy Scouts, Amateur Radio Club, Russian Club, Forum Social Club, Toastmasters, "On the Spot" Team and Editor of Each has Spoken.

After graduation, W.E. attended college at Washington University and earned a B.S. EE, A.B. in Mathematics and a B.S. Physics in 1975. His studies then took him to Cornell University where he earned a M.S. in Physics in 1978 and a Ph.D. in Physics in 1982.

W.E. mentioned, "After finishing my Ph.D. in Physics, I was interested in doing research in one of the great industrial labs. I was fortunate to be offered full-time positions at Bell Labs and at IBM, and I moved out to California (where I was born) to join IBM Research as a Research Staff Member." W.E. was a Research Staff Member at IBM Research in San Jose for 13 years, which was followed by a 3-year Professorship in Chemistry at the University of California, San Diego. Currently, W.E. is the Harry S. Mosher Professor at Stanford University in the Chemistry Department, with a courtesy appointment in Applied Physics. His group of graduate students and postdocs are currently involved in: single-molecule spectroscopy and super-resolution imaging in cells, physical chemistry, chemical physics, biophysics and nanoparticle trapping. W.E. has been with Stanford since 1998.

Regarding his time at Longfellow and Jefferson, W.E. shared the following: "Beyond the truly critical role of my parents, I was encouraged to excel by Mrs. Gates in the Math department at Longfellow Junior High. At Jeff, I had many favorite teachers, but perhaps the most important was Mrs. Rodriguez, the counselor, who encouraged me to take a Langsdorf Fellowship to attend Washington University for college - and it was central to my future development to go to another state. Band was a key central activity for me, as it furthered my love of music while giving me a chance to make great friends and attend many football games! I am also very grateful that I was able to engage in debate with Jim Hickey and Libby Garcia as that sharpened my analytical skills, and going to Math or Science competitions was always fun. Editing Each Has Spoken was a great activity - if you read those poems and essays now, there are wonderful thoughts from so many Mustangs there. Being on the "On the Spot" team was a truly fun experience - we got to study the newspapers all day in the front office in preparation - a special treat. I value the fact that I got my first amateur radio license at Jeff with friends like Larry Perry, and I am still a ham. Many, many other people influenced me (such as my girlfriends!) but that is for another time and place."

W.E. and his wife, Sharon, are enjoying the activities of their son, Daniel, who just graduate from college and now will spend a year at Cambridge University in England for graduate study in philosophy.

W.E. offers the following advice to fellow Mustangs: "Explore your passions and live life to its fullest -- it takes practice and persistence to be "good" at something, but it is well worth the effort. The work you do now lays the foundation for the rest of your life, so don't be afraid to study hard or be a geek!"


Update on October 8, 2014: W.E. Moerner '71 won the 2014 Nobel Prize in Chemistry. W.E. joins Robert Floyd Curl Jr. '50 as the second Thomas Jefferson graduate to win a Nobel Prize in Chemistry. [Read More on]

Help celebrate this achievement! The San Antonio Express-News and San Antonio Independent School District is writing a story on W.E. Moerner and needs our help. If you have any photos of W.E. or would like to share your memories of W.E., please contact William Luther ( or Rene Lynn (

The TJHS Alumni Association thanks W.E. Moerner for this interview and for serving a great role model for all Mustangs.

Contributing Writer: Michelle Resendez Mata
Photos Provided By: W.E. Moerner

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The Thomas Jefferson High School Alumni Association is in the process of establishing a 501(c)(3) organization. The Thomas Jefferson High School Alumni Association is a Texas Domestic Non Profit Corporation. 501(c)(3) Non-Profit Organization Application Pending.

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TJHS Alumni Association, PO Box 780024, San Antonio, TX 78278-0024 | | 210-570-TJHS
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