In Memory of





Obituary for Richard Magee Osgood Jr.

Dr. Richard Magee Osgood, Jr. was born on December 28, 1943 in Kansas City, Missouri, to Mary (Neff) Russell Osgood and COL Richard M. Osgood, Sr., a Captain in the Army at the time. In his early years, Rick cherished his summers in Rockport MA with his mother and Aunt Mary in the summer home of his grandparents. While in Winchester High School, Rick was active in the Boy Scouts, attaining Eagle Scout and the Order of the Arrow. It was in Rick’s AP Chemistry course that he met the love of his life, Alice (Rose) Dyson. Rick graduated from Winchester, MA high school in 1961 and entered the United States Military Academy at West Point. At West Point, he was a member of the varsity track team and distinguished himself academically. During part of the summer of his junior year, while stationed with an Army engineer company in South Germany, Rick took a month of furlough for a solo bicycle trek, deepening his knowledge of German culture, countryside and language. Upon his 1965 graduation and commission as a second lieutenant, Rick elected to be assigned to the Air Force, moving to Yellow Springs, OH in 1965. Rick married Alice in June, 1966 and they went on to have three children, Richard III, Nathaniel and Jennifer.

At Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Rick co-invented the high-power carbon monoxide laser and took evening classes to earn a master’s degree in physics at Ohio State University in 1968. Applying to PhD programs, he was awarded a full Hertz scholarship for doctoral study at MIT. At MIT, Rick worked in the research group of Professor Ali Javan, contributing to breakthrough advances in laser science. Rick was awarded a PhD in Physics from MIT in the spring of 1973 and immediately went to work for MIT Lincoln Laboratory, initially in the Optics Division, and later switching to the Solid State Division in 1975-6, when he joined the Quantum Electronics group. In this group, Rick co-created the field of laser-induced photochemical deposition and reactions on surfaces; for this and other surface chemistry research, he was later awarded the John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship. Across his entire professional life, Rick was a pioneer in the rapidly expanding field of lasers, and conducted both pure and applied science with lasers, such as the creation of a new solid state laser in the Quantum Electronics Group.

In 1981, Rick transitioned to a fully tenured professorship at Columbia University and moved his family to New York. In 1988, Rick was appointed Higgins Professor at Columbia University, where he created and directed the Microelectronics Sciences Laboratories, in which his research group created new microelectronics capabilities and materials. At Columbia, Rick created new surface chemistry and interactions, and nonlinear optical materials and processing with his many colleagues and over 100 students. Although an academic, Rick also contributed to pure and applied science at the national level, participating in multiple studies during the summers for the Defense Advanced Projects Agency (DARPA). In 2000, he became an Associate Director of Brookhaven National Laboratory (BNL), one of a handful of American National Laboratories with advanced synchrotron facilities leading worldwide research.

Later in his career at Columbia University and after his tenure at BNL, Rick led pioneering efforts to create and apply Silicon Photonics, in non-linear optical materials and in the new field of plasmonics, which experienced exponential growth in the 2000s and led Rick to publish many highly cited papers.

Since his 2016 retirement and move to Wenham MA, Rick remained active in optics and materials research in the greater Boston area, maintaining a close connection to former students and working part-time at Boston University and working with and mentoring students and postdoctoral researchers. He further contributed to editing and writing technical books with past students.

Rick loved spending summers in Rockport with his family, where ocean swims and morning jogs constituted a treasured part of his daily routine. Rick was a member of the South End Association and an active member of the Veterans Committee in Wenham.

Rick cherished spending his time with his six grandchildren, whether visiting historical sites and museums or pursuing home projects or yard work. His humor, wise advice, kind words, diligent work ethic, and love of the outdoors and science and his deep and abiding curiosity about natural phenomena strongly influenced his entire family, especially his children. As one neighbor observed, Rick had a brilliant mind and a heart of gold, and will remain an inspiration for his family and friends for years to come. His noble spirit will always be treasured.

Following a courageous five-week battle with radiation cystitis, Rick passed away on October 20, 2023 in the beautiful and peaceful surrounds of the Kaplan Family Hospice House in Danvers. MA.

Rick is survived by his beloved wife Alice; his sons, Dr. Richard and Dr. Nathaniel (Dr. Xiaoquan), and daughter Jennifer (Richard Smestad), and six grandchildren: Anatoly and Richard Osgood, and Svea, Solvie, Siiri and Selja Smestad. He is also survived by his brother, Russell (Paula) and sister Dr. Rebecca (Dr. Thomas Hoerner) and several nieces and nephews. A small private family funeral is planned in November at the First Congregational Church in Winchester, MA. For non-family well-wishers, livestreaming will be available on the church website. A private burial will take place at Locust Grove Cemetery in Rockport, MA. In lieu of flowers, donations can be directed to the Kaplan Family Hospice House in Danvers, the First Congregational Church in Winchester or a charity of the donor’s choosing.