Ernest Fox Nichols was an American educator and physicist. He was born in Leavenworth County, Kansas, and received his undergraduate degree from Kansas State University in 1888. After working for a year in the Chemistry Department at Kansas State, he matriculated to graduate school at Cornell University, where he received degrees in 1893 and 1897. He also studied at the University of Berlin and Cambridge University.
Nichols served as a professor of physics at Colgate University from 1892â€“1898, at Dartmouth College from 1898â€“1903, and Columbia University from 1903-1909. Thereafter, Nichols served as the 10th President of Dartmouth College between 1909 and 1916, and as the president of MIT from 1921 until 1923.
Nichols was awarded the Rumford Prize by the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1905 for his proof that light exerts pressure. He was also elected Vice President of the National Academy of Sciences.