Morris Slotnick

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Morris Slotnick
M. M. Slotnick headshot.png
Latest company Standard-Vacuum Oil Company
Membership Life Membership
PhD Mathematics
PhD university Harvard

Morris Miller Slotnick (1901-1956) was a Russian-born American mathematician and geophysicist.


Morris Miller Slotnick died suddenly of a heart attack on May 7, 1956, in Dallas, Texas. He was at the Love Field Airport on his way to board a plane at the time he was stricken and he never regained consciousness. Moe, as he was affectionately called by his many friends, was very widely known in the geophysical fraternity. He had been for many years a shining light in this field and his untimely death is a grievous blow to all who knew him.

Moe was born in Zelva, Russia, in 19Ol and moved to the United States with his parents at the tender age of 2. He grew up in Lawrence, Massachusetts, and Bridgeport, Connecticut, and by the time he was ready for college had decided on mathematics as his field and on Harvard as the University of his Choice. His scholastic record at Harvard was outstanding. He received his bachelor's degree in 1922 and continued his studies, receiving the degree of doctor of philosophy in mathematics in 1926.

Following completion of his doctoral work at Harvard, he married Esther Joselle of Boston and the two promptly departed for Europe where Moe spent a year in post-doctoral studies as a Harvard Traveling Research Fellow at the University of Hamburg. Then followed, at yearly intervals, posts of National Research Fellow at Princeton, mathematics instructor at Harvard, and assistant professor of mathematics at Grinnell College. He joined the Humble Oil & fining Company in 1930 as a research mathematician in the geophysical department and continued in this work becoming chief mathematician for Humble in 1949. During the war he served with the Naval Ordnance Bureau in Washington, D. C., and was engaged in mathematical studies of the type that have since become well known as operations research. In 1954 he transferred from Humble to the Standard-Vacuum Oil Company as geophysics consultant and advisor which position he held at the time of his death.

Moe was a brilliant mathematician as well as a man of broad cultural and humanitarian interests. His was a stimulating intellect coupled with a friendliness and frankness that attracted all who met him. He was particularly interested in the training of younger men and one of his most enjoyable duties at Humble was the giving of instruction to young geophysics computers and interpreters.

He was the author of numerous papers dealing with geophysical interpretation, and many computing procedures which he developed have been extensively used. As editor of GEOPHYSICS in 1937 and 1938 he worked hard at improving the technical stature of the journal. His enthusiasm and energy did much to attract good papers in those days when the society was struggling along at less than one-fourth of its present size.

Moe maintained throughout his career a dose attachment to academic circles, particularly in the field of mathematics. He was for years a member of the Visiting Committee on Mathematics for the Board of Overseers at Harvard a post of distinction which he still held at the time of his death.

Moe is survived by his wife, Esther, and by two children, a daughter, Jane Slotnick Freeman, and a son, Joseph. His passing is a loss which is deeply felt. He was loved and will be long remembered by all those whose privilege it was to know him.

Service to SEG

Dr. Slotnick served as the Editor of ''Geophysics'' for the years 1937-1938 and 1938-1939.[2]


  1. Geophysics, Vol. XXII, No.1, January 1957.
  2. Clark, D. (2010), Out of the past. The Leading Edge," 75(5), 75A263-75A271.