December 13, 1907–October 13, 1995
BY GOVINDJEE AND DAVID C. FORK
STACY FRENCH WAS BORN on December 13, 1907, in Lowell, Massachusetts, and died at Stanford, California, on October 13, 1995. The Botanical Society of America Merit Award, in 1973, described C. Stacy French as a “skillful and persistent investigator of the spectral properties and state of chlorophyll in tissues; inventor and gadgeteer par excellence; able and genial administrator of a productive center of botanical research—Carnegie Institution of Washington at Stanford.”
Stacy was a key figure in the revolution that deciphered the photochemical events of photosynthesis, beginning with his elegant work in 1952, where he demonstrated, with Violet M. K. Young, efficient excitation energy transfer from the red and blue pigments (the phycobilins) to the green pigment chlorophyll (Chl) a. Stacy’s later work is known mostly for the state-of-the-art analysis of the different spectral forms of Chl a-protein complexes and their function in the different photosystems of algae and plants.
The invention of instruments and the pioneers who displayed them have played key roles in the advancement of all the sciences (Jardine, 1999). Stacy French was one of those inventors. His prestigious inventions include the “French pressure cell” for breaking of cells; the first auto-