John Almquist began studying artificial insemination techniques in dairy cattle in 1946. In 1981, Almquist was awarded the International Wolf Prize, agriculture's equivalent of the Nobel Prize, for his studies on the cryopreservation of sperm and the advantages of antibiotics and milk extenders in preserving semen.
Penn State's first contribution to electronic computing was the work of Haskell Curry , an expert on symbolic logic. Curry worked on the first electronic computer, called ENIAC, while on leave from Penn State during World War II. Curry's research in the 1950s into the foundations of combinatory logic was applied in 1986 in the Mitre Corporation's Curry Chip, an innovative piece of computer hardware based on Curry's concept of "combinators."
In August 1955, Erwin Mueller became the first person to see an atom and thus visually validate a theory of matter propounded since ancient times. His field-ion microscope - later refined as the atom probe field-ion microscope - created a new research field and contributed to the understanding of the structure of metallic substances.
Hans Panofsky conducted fundamental work at Penn State between 1952 and 1982 that led to a new understanding of atmospheric turbulence, air pollution, ozone depletion, and planetary atmospheres. He was among the first to apply computer analysis to weather prediction. In 1976, long before the ozone hole was discovered over Antarctica, he presented a paper on "Threats to the Ozone Layer."
Stuart Patton a specialist in food chemistry, was a pioneer in the field of milk-flavor synthesis. He found the chemical origins of off-flavors produced in milk by processing, storage, heating, and irradiation, and of desirable flavors such as those in bleu cheese, cheddar, and Swiss. Methyl sulfide, he found, was responsible for the "faint characteristic flavor, perhaps best defined by the term 'cowy'" of normal milk. Patton also performed early studies of cholesterol build-up.
By 1956, using plans supplied by General Electric and parts from IBM, Penn State electrical engineers had PENNSTAC the Penn State Automatic Computer, in operation. One of the very first university computers, PENNSTAC resulted in more than 60 graduate theses on its design and construction.
Penn State's Coal Sample Bank began in the 1950s, when Penn State petrologist William Spackman and Andy Brisse of U.S. Steel collaborated to revive the science of coal petrography - the microscopic examination of coal in order to determine its organic components and relate composition to usefulness.
In 1945, Eric Walker, who would become Penn State's 12th president, brought researchers from the Harvard Underwater Sound Laboratory to Penn State. Expertise at this laboratory, now the Applied Research Laboratory , has been critical to the development of all Navy torpedoes since World War II.