In 1989, in its thirtieth year, the American Board of Health Physics established an annual award to honor a Certified Health Physicist who had made a significant contribution toward the advancement of professionalism in Health Physics and to the Certification process. The award was named for one of the founders of Certification Process, William A. McAdams.

William McAdams circa 1960

Mr. McAdams’ career began as a ballistics engineer for E.I. duPont and Co. at Penns Grove, NJ in 1940. The following year he became the Senior Supervisor of Ballistics at the duPont Indiana Ordinance Works. In 1943, he became a Research Physicist in the Manhattan District at the Metallurgical Laboratory at the University of Chicago. He then moved on to Hanford where he worked for General Electric as Manager of Radiation Protection Services under Herb Parker from 1951-55. He was promoted to a Radiation Protection Consultant at Large for the GE Corporation and relocated to GE in Schenectady, NY. He ultimately became the corporate GE manager of Industry Standards.

He was a member of the Board of Directors of what it now ANSI and active in the ISO and the International Electrotechnical Commission (he was President of the IEC from 1980 to 1983). He served for a decade (1957-67) on the NCRP.

The early actions of the HPS Board of Directors regarding the initial period are described in the HPS Member handbook. To summarize, a committee was established to study the need for certification. William McAdams served on this committee. When the committee’s recommendations were approved, the HPS appointed a temporary ABHP on November 8, 1958 and appointed William McAdams as the Chairman.

When the HPS Board of Directors formally established the ABHP through a Bylaws change, William McAdams was again appointed Chairman. The other members of the initial Board were C. Maurice Patterson, Elda Anderson, Lauriston Taylor, and John Laughlin. Mr. McAdams also was responsible for obtaining the New York State charter for the Board.

Mr. McAdams died in 1995. A short history of his career can be found at this link. Further, an anecdote from his daughter was published in the CHP Corner for September 2010 (link)

The committee that did the groundwork for the award in 1989 contacted a number of CHPs who had been involved in the early days of the certification process. Two individuals were repeatedly identified as playing the pivotal roles in the original Health Physics Society Certification Committee and the initial ABHP Board. Correspondence of the award committee stated “Elda Anderson was probably the driving spirit behind the whole movement. Bill McAdams apparently was the ramrod that made things happen.”

The award recipients are: