Frank H. Field was raised in Cliffside Park, New Jersey, by an aunt, an uncle, and a grandmother. He entered Duke University, placing a year ahead in chemistry, but had very little money. To meet his expenses he worked in the school dining hall and graded math papers. He continued on at Duke for his graduate education and worked on using fluorocarbons as hydraulic fluids to replace hydrocarbons on warships. He then took a position at the University of Texas and began his mass spectrometry career. He worked first on measuring the ionization potential of cyclopropane. Field left the University of Texas to work with Joe Franklin at Humble Oil, and then after time at Esso, he was recruited by Rockefeller University as a full professor. He shifted into biochemical mass spectroscopy to be more in keeping with the biomedical orientation of Rockefeller. He built the second Californium-252 mass spectrometer in the world. A talk in Bordeaux, France, excited his enthusiasm for matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization (MALDI) and he persuaded his postdoc, Brian Chait, to build one.