He attended Princeton as a graduate student and later taught at several American universities before a stint in industry.
He developed a complete set of orthogonal functions known as the Wannier functions which became tools of the trade for solid-state theorists. He also had made contributions to ferromagnetic theory via the Ising model.
He returned to academia in 1961 at the University of Oregon. He published a series of important papers on the properties of crystals, working with graduate students and visiting professors. Additionally he published widely read textbooks on solid-state theory and statistical mechanics.
He was regarded by many in the department as its most eminent member until his death on October 21, 1983.