When Wilbur Hurst was a student at Albion College he earned a reputation as a serious scholar in the classroom and a successful runner on both the men's track and field team and on the men's cross country team. Since then, he has earned a reputation as a humanitarian and a scientist, receiving recognition as a community leader for the Presidential Conversation on Race and the prestigious Edward Bennett Rosa Award from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the U.S. Department of Commerce Bronze Medal.
A member of Phi Beta Kappa and Omicron Delta Kappa at Albion, Hurst went on to earn his master's degree from the University of Pennsylvania before being awarded his Ph.D. from Pennsylvania State University. These accomplishments led to a 40-year career as a physicist with the National Institute of Standards and Technology in the U.S. Department of Commerce. During that span, Hurst's work included the development of high-temperature thermocouples for NASA, the development of non-linear Raman spectroscopic techniques, the use of these techniques for the study of the collision dynamics of gas molecules, the study of the spectra of gases at high temperature and pressure conditions, the study of combustion in supercritical water, the development of NIST standard reference materials employed for the intensity calibration of Raman spectrometers, and the application of spectroscopic techniques to investigate the chemical mechanisms during the growth of oxide insulators by single-layer steps. Now retired, he continues as a guest researcher at NIST.
As an active member of a United Methodist church with 1,200 members, Hurst has chaired numerous committees over the years. His service to Albion College has included chairing reunion committees, organizing the first class reunion symposium, membership in the "A" Club, volunteering as a class agent and career mentor, and attending numerous College events both on and off campus. He and his wife, Bette, reside in Damascus, Maryland. They have one daughter, Natalie.