Thomas A. Rabson was born in Houston, TX on July 31, 1932 and graduated from Lamar High School in 1950. He attended Rice University from 1950 to 1959, earning a Bachelor of Art in 1954, Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering in 1955, Master of Arts in Physics in 1957, and Doctor of Philosophy in Physics in 1959.
Dr. Rabson joined the Rice faculty in 1959 and built the Ph.D. program for Electrical Engineering, graduating the first doctoral student in his department. He served as professor of electrical engineering from 1979-2000, and was chairman of the department from 1979-1984. He was an active member of IEEE,the American Physical Society, the Optical Society of America, and the Society of Photo-Optical Instrumentation Engineers. Additionally, he was a Rice representative on the U.S. Council for Energy Awareness and a consultant of a number of energy, electronics, and geophysical corporations, including Shell Oil Company, Exxon USA, Texas Instruments, Inc., and Motorola, Inc. He was also a member of Tau Beta Pi, Sigma Tau, and Sigma Xi and served as a National Science Foundation Science Faculty Fellow in Basel, Switzerland from 1965-1966. He has received such honors as Who’s Who in the Southwest, American Men of Science, and program manager of Project Thesis Research at Rice University from 1968-1973.
Dr. Rabson retired from Rice University after earning emeritus status in May 2000 and moved to Madisonville, Texas. He is widely recognized for his pioneering work in the field of lasers and his expertise on ferroelectric thin films and the properties and uses of lithium niobate. He passed away in 2009.
In 2013, the ECE Department renamed their undergraduate laboratory to the Professor Thomas A. Rabson lab.