Photosynthesis Research

, Volume 122, Issue 1, pp 87–95 | Cite as

Stories and photographs of William A. Arnold (1904–2001), a pioneer of photosynthesis and a wonderful friend

  • Lucinda ChoulesEmail author
  • GovindjeeEmail author
Historical Corner


William A. Arnold discovered many phenomena in photosynthesis. In 1932, together with Robert Emerson, he provided the first experimental data that led to the concept of a large antenna and a few reaction centers (photosynthetic unit); in 1935, he obtained the minimum quantum requirement of 8–10 for the evolution of one O2 molecule; in 1951, together with Bernard L. Strehler, he discovered delayed fluorescence (also known as delayed light emission) in photosynthetic systems; and in 1956, together with Helen Sherwood, he discovered thermoluminescence in plants. He is also known for providing a solid-state picture of photosynthesis. Much has been written about him and his research, including many articles in a special issue of Photosynthesis Research (Govindjee et al. (eds.) 1996); and a biography of Arnold, by Govindjee and Srivastava (William Archibald Arnold (1904–2001), 2014), in the Biographical Memoirs of the US National Academy of Sciences, (Washington, DC). Our article here offers a glimpse into the everyday life, through stories and photographs, of this remarkable scientist.


William A. Arnold Delayed fluorescence Nuclear fission Photosynthetic unit Photosynthesis Thermoluminescence 



We thank Elizabeth Arnold, mother of Lucinda Choules, for sharing her stories about her father for this article, helping us with timelines, and providing Figs. 1, 2, and 4. We are thankful to Helen Herron, Elizabeth Arnold, Jane F. Hill, and George C. Papageorgiou for reading this manuscript, and for their valuable suggestions for improving it.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Interdisciplinary Studies (Biology, Business, and Forestry)Stephen F. Austin State UniversityNacogdochesUSA
  2. 2.Department of Biochemistry, Department of Plant Biology, and Center of Biophysics & Quantitative BiologyUniversity of Illinois at Urbana-ChampaignUrbanaUSA

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