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Fred Nowell Jones, Jr.

Professor of Psychology, Emeritus

Los Angeles




F. Nowell Jones was a native Californian. He was born in Santa Monica, graduated from Santa Monica High School in 1930, received a B.A. degree in 1934 and an M.A. in 1937 from UCLA. Nowell received his Ph.D. in 1939 from Cornell University working in one of the first experimental psychology laboratories in North America, established by E. B. Titchener at the turn of the 20th century. Nowell's specialty field was sensation and perception, particularly taste and smell. After receiving his Ph.D. he taught at the University of Alabama, the University of Wisconsin, Madison, and Washington State College, where he was the founding chairman of their Psychology Department. He also worked briefly in industry for the Bridgeport Brass Company and Lockheed Aircraft.


Nowell joined the UCLA Department of Psychology in 1949, hired in part because it was thought his experience in industry might result in the development of an industrial psychology program, a new form of applied psychology. Upon joining the UCLA faculty, however, Nowell returned to his first love, research on sensation and perception, primarily olfaction. Nowell served as chairman of the Department of Psychology at UCLA from 1962 to 1970. He retired in 1979 as professor emeritus.


In 1939 Nowell married Margaret Russel Hubbard, known to everyone as Peggy. She obtained her Ph.D. from UCLA in 1949 and co-authored eight papers with Nowell. They also coauthored a book with Marion Wenger, chairman of the Psychology Department when Nowell joined the UCLA faculty. Physiological Psychology, by Wenger, Jones, and Jones, was a widely used undergraduate textbook. It maintained the strong physiological tradition in the Department's curriculum initiated by its founding chairman and pioneering physiological psychologist, Shepard Ivory Franz.


A series of publications in the 1950s and 1960s on the psychophysical scaling of odor perceptions established Nowell's reputation as an expert in the field of olfaction research. He used quantitative methods to establish basic classes of odors and their dimensions. He also devised instrumentation to present odors under controlled conditions so that variability was present only in participants’ sensitivity to the kinds of odors presented and their intensity.


Nowell's service to the Department of Psychology and the University has had lasting effect. During his chairmanship, two additional large buildings were constructed, quadrupling the physical facilities of old Franz Hall housing the teaching and research activities of the Psychology Department. It became one of the largest departments on campus in terms of undergraduate and graduate enrollments. During that same period there was a commensurate increase in the number of full-time faculty. Nowell's contribution to the academic community did not stop at the departmental level. He also served in the Legislative Assembly, the University Committee on Undergraduate Courses and Curricula, and the Research Committee.


Prior to the birth of their only child, Lynne, who arrived on the scene relatively late in their lives, the Joneses were almost totally absorbed in their professional careers, living, eating, and dreaming about psychology 24 hours per day. Their lives were totally transformed by parenthood. Theirs suddenly became, and remained forever afterwards, child-oriented. Lynne went everywhere with them and did everything with them. They doted on Lynne as completely as they had been absorbed by their careers before she arrived. When Lynne married Jim Arnold and they began having one child after the other, Nowell and Peggy became totally dedicated grandparents. When Jim and Lynne moved away from Los Angeles, their grandparenting activities were curtailed somewhat until Nowell and Peggy retired. Then, they began moving about the country, following Lynne and Jim wherever they went, buying a new house at each new whistle stop. The Joneses adored their grandchildren and vice versa. When Peggy passed away in 1998, Nowell lived by himself for a while but eventually moved in with Jim and Lynne where he had his own separate living quarters on their property.


Nowell managed to find time for recreation and relaxation. He and Peggy were passionate racing yachtspersons. They won more than 60 trophies, often recruiting fellow psychology faculty as crewmen for races. It was hard work but great fun, unless you were liable to sea sickness.


Nowell died May 30, 2004 in Mesa, Arizona, the home of his daughter, Lynne Arnold, who cared for him for the past six years. In addition to his surviving daughter there are seven grandchildren and two great grandchildren.



Andrew L. Comrey

Irving M. Maltzman