Alfred Lit Obituary


MURPHYSBORO, IL—Dr. Alfred (Fred) Lit, 85, Professor Emeritus of Psychology, Southern Illinois University at Carbondale, died on August 15, 2000 in Carbondale, IL.

He was born in New York City on November 24, 1914 to Oscar Zachary Lit and Elsie Jaro. Both parents preceded him in death, as did an older brother, Theodore (Ted). His younger sister, Norma Lit Badillo, lives in New York City; her son, Professor David Badillo, teaches history at the University of Illinois (Chicago).

He is survived by his wife, Imogene Speegle Lit, born in Cullman, Alabama. They met during World War II in a military hospital in Tokyo, Japan where both served as officers in the U.S. Army—he as a Clinical Psychologist and she as a Physical Therapist. They were married in New York City on January 27, 1947, following their discharges from military service at war's end.

He completed his graduate studies in the Department of Psychology at Columbia University as a graduate assistant to Professor Clarence Henry Graham and obtained a Ph.D. in Experimental Psychology in 1948, majoring in the field of visual sensation and perception. He received a research grant from the American Academy of Optometry for a study relating stereoscopic vision and the visual latent period.

During this period at Columbia he also served as Lecturer in Optometry (1946-1948) and progressively advanced to the rank of Associate Professor (1952-1956). He was appointed a member of the Educational Policy Committee of the Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry and served from 1951 to 1956. He practiced optometry from 1938 to 1943 and was elected President of the New York County Optometric Society in 1954. From 1956 to 1959 he was a Research Psychologist at the University of Michigan and later (1959-1961) became Head of the Human Engineering staff of Bendix System Division in Ann Arbor.

Dr. Lit was invited to come to SIUC in July 1961 as Professor of Psychology in the Department of Psychology. He was also appointed as Professor in the newly established School of Engineering and Technology (and in the Department of Electrical Sciences and Systems Engineering in 1972). He retired from SIUC in 1983 as Professor Emeritus.

During his tenure, he was a strong advocate of interdisciplinary training and research in the sciences and was elected as a member of the executive committees in the Department of Engineering Biophysics (1972-1981) and Molecular Science Doctoral Program (1973-1980). He was elected President of the SIUC chapter of The Society of Sigma Xi for two terms.

He served on many departmental and university committees, including, President of the Faculty Club, member of the Liberal Arts and Sciences Council, member of the Research and Projects Review Committee, and campus representative to the Graduate Council.

Among the honors he received for research during his tenure at SIUC are: the Sigma Xi Research Award (1971), Outstanding Educator of America Award (1975), member of the National Research Council Committee on Vision of the National Academy of Science, member of the Special Study Sections of the U.S. Public Health Service, representative of the Human Factors Society to Section J (Psychology) of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, nominated by the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences for appointment as a "Distinguished Professor" (1975), and awarded by the New York Academy of Optometry the title "Honorary Fellow."

His research contributions in the field of visual psychophysics (e.g., binocular depth perception, light and dark adaptation, the visual latent period, color vision, and human engineering) were recognized internationally. The research was partially funded by the Graduate School of SIUC and grants from the State of Illinois and Federal agencies (U.S. Public Health Service and the National Science Foundation) during about four decades.

Upon retirement in 1983, Dr. Lit extended his research efforts to include a project on the application of visual psychophysics to the early detection of neural diseases of the human visual system. This effort lead to his appointment in 1985 as a Research Professor in the New York State College of Optometry (Schnurmacher Institute of Vision Research), where he conducted a feasibility study for his proposed project. He utilized the College's clinical facilities and personnel to collect the necessary supporting data for designing a battery of six interactive psychophysical vision tests for measuring patients' responses with the aid of a computer system. He returned to SIUC in 1986 to start working on the main phases of the project until his death. From 1986 to 1997 he served as representative of the Emeritus Faculty Organization to the Graduate Council.

Dr. Lit was listed in the publications of many national and international organizations. These include Who's Who in the East, Who's Who in the Midwest, American Men of Science, Who's Who in Frontier Science and Technology, Leaders in American Science, Dictionary of International Biography, World Who's Who in Science, Who's Who in Medicine and Health, and Who's Who in America.

Dr. Lit was a member (Fellow) in many scientific societies, including: Fellow, American Psychological Association; Fellow, American Association for the Advancement of Science; Fellow, The Society of Engineering Psychologists; Fellow, American Academy of Optometry; Fellow, Optical Society of America; member, Human Factors Society; and member, Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology.

Dr. Lit was buried in the family cemetery in Staten Island, after services held in New York City.

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