Harold Sorgenti begins the interview by discussing his family background and childhood. He attended public school in Brooklyn, New York, and graduated City College with a BS in chemical engineering. During his early life, Sorgenti faced the harshness of blatant prejudice aimed at his Italian heritage. He was able to find a job after college at Battelle Memorial Institute, with the help of a government quota for minorities. While working in research there, Sorgenti received his masters in chemical engineering from Ohio State University. After four years at Battelle, Sorgenti left to work in research for Atlantic Richfield Oil Corporation (ARCO). Sorgenti had a highly productive research career and invented several production processes, such as making benzene from toluene by hydrodealkylation. Because of his exemplary managerial skills and ability to take risks, Sorgenti was promoted first to director of development and then to head to research and engineering at ARCO. Eventually, he became the president of ARCO Chemical, a subdivision of ARCO. Sorgenti urged the company’s CEO, Robert Anderson, to buy control of Oxirane, which Sorgenti later built in to a highly successful company. From the beginning of his presidency in 1979, to his retirement in 1991, Sorgenti increased ARCO’s net worth by two billion dollars. Sorgenti has always believed that a manager’s most important job was to provide safety for his employees. He felt that shareholders were preventing him from accomplishing that task at ARCO, so he resigned and then co-founded the Freedom Chemical Company. There, Sorgenti helped organize many transactions, including one with the Kalama Chemical Company. When Freedom’s investment partner, JLL, decided to sell the company to B.F. Goodrich, Sorgenti founded a new company named, Sorgenti Investment Partners. Throughout his career, Sorgenti has joined many corporate boards, and worked hard to make the selection of new executives and board members an open process. Sorgenti ends the interview by reflecting on his philanthropic involvements and family life.
James L. Waters begins his interview by discussing his family history and the emigration of his ancestors from England to Massachusetts in 1638. Waters was born in Lincoln, Nebraska in 1925, where his father, Leland L. Waters, worked at the family insurance business. Waters describes himself as an independent child, who preferred to do things on his own without the help of his parents, something he feels was critical in his success as a businessman. As a youth, Waters participated in little league football and maintained a paper route, a job that enabled him to gain a sense of independence. During Waters' junior year of high school, his father was offered a position as the treasurer of the B&W Bus Line, an opportunity that took the Waters family to Framingham, Massachusetts. Waters graduated from Framingham High School in 1943 and enrolled at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he became a member of the Navy's V-12 program for engineering. Waters was sent to Columbia University to continue his studies as a physics major at the end of his second term. He was then discharged from the Navy and entered the University of Nebraska. In 1947, Waters accepted a position as project manager's assistant at Baird Associates Inc. and was soon promoted to project manager, working as an assembler and service man on various instrumentation. Waters, however, felt unfulfilled, and after a short while, decided the time was right to start his own instrumentation company. At the age of twenty-two, Waters founded James L. Waters, Inc., working from his parents' basement. At the same time, Waters met Faith Pigors, whom he married in 1948. In spite of his lack of experience and naiveté in business, Waters' sheer determination to succeed enabled him to overcome the many obstacles that occurred while working on his first instrument, an infrared gas analyzer. Waters sold James L. Waters, Inc. to Mine Safety Appliances Company in 1955, but continued his work on instrumentation in a contract capacity with Mine Safety. Waters founded Waters Associates, Inc. in 1958, and shortly afterwards began to delve into the field of gel permeation chromatography (GPC). As Waters Associates' GPC instruments evolved, the company experienced phenomenal growth and in eight years managed to double its profits, many times over. The business began to decline due to R&D problems, so Waters Associates merged with Millipore Inc. in 1977. After conflicts with the Waters Associates board, Waters left the company to become the director of Millipore and, finally, a venture capitalist. Waters concludes the interview with a discussion of his wife and children and their careers.
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Kathryn C. Hach-Darrow begins the interview* with anecdotes of Clifford C. Hach as a young, inquisitive child growing up on a farm and the effects of the Great Depression on the Hach family. Despite financial difficulties, the Hach family encouraged Clifford to attend Iowa State University where he met his future wife, Kathryn Carter. Similar to Clifford Hach, Hach-Darrow grew up on a farm during the Great Depression, but spent much of her early childhood riding in and flying her father's Eagle Rock biplane. Raising turkeys in order to finance her college education, Hach-Darrow decided to pursue home economics at Iowa State. Clifford and Kathryn were married in June 1943 after a yearlong courtship. Hach-Darrow discusses the responsibilities of raising their three children—Mary, Bruce, and Paul—maintaining a steady income, and developing a company. In 1947 Clifford and Kathryn started the Hach Chemical and Oxygen Company, which eventually became Hach Company, one of the most innovative, influential, and well-known companies in the world. Hach-Darrow relays her thoughts on and her memories of the key events surrounding the start of the company, the creation of the Hach Model 5B Hardness Test Kit, the decision to enter the water testing market, the incorporation of the company in 1951, and the importance and need for instrumentation. Moreover, Hach-Darrow discusses the company's initial public offering in 1968, innovation, the company's international pursuits, Bruce J. Hach's involvement with the company, and the importance of quality control and customer service standards. Throughout the interview, Bruce Hach appends his memories and reflections of Clifford Hach as a father, an entrepreneur, and an innovator. Hach-Darrow concludes the interview by recounting the effect of Clifford's death on his family and the Hach Company in the early 1990s. In 1999, Hach-Darrow sold the company to Danaher Corporation. Along with her family and other dedicated workers, Hach-Darrow now focuses her efforts on the Hach Scientific Foundation, known for its support of chemical education in the form of scholarships. Hach-Darrow is also an avid supporter of female entrepreneurship and was one of the founding members of The Committee of 200. * This oral history also records the recollections of Bruce J. Hach, son of Kathryn and Clifford Hach, as he was present during all interview sessions.
The interview begins with Dr. Joullié's description of her early life and education in Brazil. Her father sent her to Simmons College in the United States, where she received her undergraduate degree before obtaining her master's and doctoral degrees in chemistry at the University of Pennsylvania. Her mentor, Dr. Allan R. Day, advised her to teach at Penn, where she met and married fellow professor Richard E. Prange. Here Joullié describes Day's teaching and mentoring skills, along with her own views on educating students in the scientific fields and Penn's educational climate, mentioning Charles C. Price. In 1953, Joullié became organic chemistry instructor at Penn. Early on, she overhauled and ran the chemistry laboratories and stockroom. She conducted research on fingerprint reagents for the U. S. Secret Service and is now focusing on cyclic peptides. She reminisces about some of her former students. With Mildred Cohn, Joullié implemented affirmative action guidelines that led to more hiring of women and minorities in tenure-track positions at Penn. Also, she helped institute professional guidelines for chemists through the American Chemical Society. While on a Fulbright scholarship in Brazil, Joullié wrote a book in Portuguese on heterocyclic chemistry. Later, she acted as consultant for Western Electric and Shell. She is collaborating with Paul B. Weisz on angiogenesis research and is also working on a cholinesterase inhibitor for Alzheimer's disease. The interview concludes with a discussion of trends in chemistry textbooks, highlighting Organic Chemistry, which Joullié co-authored with Day.
Cedomir Sliepcevich begins the interview with a description of his family and early years in Anaconda, Montana. A firm educational beginning in Anaconda influenced Sliepcevich to attend college. He enrolled in the chemical engineering program at Montana State College in 1937. During his sophomore year, Sliepcevich knew he wanted to go on to graduate school. In 1939, he transferred to the University of Michigan and received his BS, MS and PhD in chemical engineering there. While a graduate student, Sliepcevich studied thermodynamics under George Granger Brown. During the summer of 1942, he worked with Fred Kurata on a National Defense Research Council classified project on screening smokes. While earning his PhD, Sliepcevich was an instructor at the University, where he taught thermodynamics. After receiving his PhD in 1947, he also worked as a consultant for the US Army V-2 rocket test program. In addition to his career in academia, Sliepcevich continued to do consulting work for various companies, including Monsanto Chemical Company, Constock Liquid Methane Corporation, and Autoclave Engineers, Inc. In 1955, he joined the faculty of the University of Oklahoma as Professor and Chairman of Chemical Engineering. Sliepcevich was instrumental in redeveloping the University's doctoral program and engineering curricula, and established the Flame Dynamics Laboratory there. He founded his own firm, University Engineers, Inc., in 1963, which specialized in fire protection systems for liquid natural gas. He officially retired from teaching in 1991 and continued to work as a consultant on many research projects. Sliepcevich concludes the interview with reflections on his career. Audio recording of this interview is not available.
Vincent J. Coates begins the interview with a description of his childhood in Bridgeport Connecticut. Having been too young to join the military at the start of World War II, Coates got a job filing machine parts and began attending the Bridgeport Engineering Institute. He later applied the knowledge he had gained at the Institute on the Navy's Officer Candidate School exam, earning him the highest score in Connecticut. At the behest of his mother, Coates attended Yale University, majoring in mechanical engineering. After a short tour in the Navy, Coates took a job a Chance-Vought Aircraft. He worked there for two years, but when learned that the company planned to move to Texas, he decided to seek employment elsewhere. In 1948, he was hired at PerkinElmer; a job that was to have a great impact on his life. He began as a project engineer, but when John U. White left suddenly in 1949, the responsibility for their project, the Model 21, fell completely on Coates's shoulders. He was undaunted, however, and after extensive research of infrared spectroscopy, Coates, with the help of John Atwood, finished the instrument. After the original Model 21 became a proven success, Coates began developing accessories for the instrument, such as the Prism Interchange Unit, to expand its potential market. Eventually, he was moved to California to head their Ultech Company subsidiary. Coates decided to leave Perkin-Elmer after the president decided to shut down Coates's field-emission scanning electron microscopes (FESEM) project at the request of Hitachi. Having realized the potential of FESEMs, Coates and Len Welter started the Coates & Welter Instrument Company to produce the world's first commercial FESEMs. Though they had a good business, they soon ran out of money and were acquired by the American Optical Corporation (AO). Coates worked for AO briefly, and then he stared his own business, Nanometrics Incorporated, in 1975. At first, Coates attempted to build and sell a Raman spectrophotometer system, but the instruments resolution proved inadequate for measuring Raman lines. He then adapted his instrument for measuring of fluorescent-tagged samples. He had assumed the instrument would be useful for biological research, but nobody was interested initially. He finally, and unexpectedly, found a niche for the instrument in the measurement of integrated circuits. His Microspot Film-Thickness-Measurement Systems became essential for the manufacture of advanced microchips, and his company became extremely successful as a result. Currently, Coates shares his successes with the scientific community through the philanthropy of the Vincent J. Coates Foundation.
Paul Cook begins the interview with a discussion of his family background and childhood. When Cook was young, he took an interest in chemistry, developing a laboratory in the basement of his parents' house. After graduating from high school in 1941, he attended the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), where he studied chemical engineering with Warren K. Lewis. In 1943, after enlisting in the Army, he went to basic infantry training. Cook then enrolled in the Army Specialized Training Program (ASTP), through which he attended Stanford University for two terms, studying mechanical engineering. After a year, Cook was sent to the Hunter Liggett Military Reservation, and then to Fort Benning, where he became an MP. While at Fort Benning, he joined the Officer Candidate School, and shortly after completing the training, was sent to fight in Italy. In February 1946, Cook left the Army and worked for Submarine Signal in Boston. He then returned to MIT, where he completed his degree in 1947. After graduation, Cook started the Warren Wire Company with his older brother. A year later, Cook left the fledgling company to join the Stanford Research Institute as a chemical engineer. There he worked on a number of projects, including the growth of the algae Chlorella and the potential uses of waste fission products. In 1951, Cook founded the Sequoia Process Corporation. Five years later, he left Sequoia to found Raychem Corporation, which opened in 1957. Cook concludes the interview with a discussion of Raychem's international competition, the growth of the company, his thoughts on managing innovation, and the possibilities of radiation technology.
Philip Eaton begins the interview with a description of his childhood, parents, and early education in Brooklyn, New York. At age seven, Eaton and his family relocated to Budd Lake, New Jersey, where he attended Roxbury Grammar School and later Roxbury High School. Eaton displayed a great interest in science during his high-school years, and his parents’ and teachers’ encouragement strengthened his desire to major in chemistry. He attended Princeton University, receiving his BA in 1957. After graduating from Princeton, Eaton attended Harvard University for both his MA and PhD degrees. While at Princeton and Harvard, Eaton worked during the summers at Allied Chemical, where his group leader, Everett Gilbert, had a profound effect on his career. There, he first became involved with cage chemistry, specifically Kepone. In his final years as a graduate student at Harvard, Eaton accepted a postdoctoral assistant professorship at the University of California, Berkeley. There he taught introductory organic chemistry with Melvin Calvin. In 1962, he joined the faculty of the University of Chicago, where he remains a professor today. Shortly after his arrival at Chicago, Eaton began researching chlorocarbon compounds, which led him to cubane synthesis. With the assistance of his postdocs, Eaton synthesized on several other cubane-based compounds. Other projects included photochemistry work and dodecahedrane synthesis. Eaton’s students praised his teaching methods and his dedication to excellence in education. His research accomplishments have earned him several awards, including the Humboldt Award and the Arthur C. Cope Scholar Award. Eaton concludes the interview with a discussion on the future or scientific research, maintaining excellence in chemistry education and research, and thoughts on his wife, Phyllis.
Arnold Frankel begins the first interview with a discussion of his family background. His father emigrated from Poland to New York in 1907. Though he was a sign painter, he believed in the importance of education. Frankel spent most of his childhood in the Bronx; because of the Depression, the family moved frequently, but remained in the same area. Frankel attended City College, enrolling in the chemical engineering curriculum and receiving his BS in 1942. While at City College, he met Seymour Mann, who later became his business partner. After graduation, Frankel accepted a position with the U. S. Rubber Company, working at a TNT plant. Soon thereafter, he moved to Publicker Industries, where he did pilot plant work. He also encouraged Mann to join Publicker. Frankel and Mann began to discuss forming their own business, and planned to manufacture 2, 4-D, and antifreeze. Though they later discarded that idea, they did form Aceto Chemical, Inc., and exported a variety of chemicals. Frankel is joined in the second interview by his wife, Miriam Frankel, and they discuss the difficulties of beginning a business and a family at the same time.
Raphael Katzen begins the interview by discussing his family background and childhood. He attended an all-boys high school, DeWitt Clinton, in New York and graduated from Polytechnic Institute of Brooklyn with a bachelor's degree in chemical engineering in 1936. While an undergraduate at Poly, Katzen became acquainted with his mentor, Donald F. Othmer. Othmer, the generous and helpful man that he was, aided Katzen whenever possible by finding Katzen summer employment, taking Katzen on off-campus consultations, and requesting permission for Katzen to obtain his master's degree in absentia while working at Northwood Chemical Company. After receiving his doctorate in 1942, Katzen became involved with the acid hydrolysis of wood in the production of ethanol at Vulcan-Cincinnati Incorporated. With nearly seventeen years experience behind him, nine years at Vulcan, and seven years in the operating industry, in 1953 Katzen decided to start his own company, Raphael Katzen Associates International, Inc., focusing on process design engineering and consultation. Katzen Associates, now known as KATZEN International, Inc., has consulted and reorganized numerous companies over the last fifty years, such as Vulcan-Cincinnati, Air Products and Chemicals Inc., and Union Carbide Corporation. Katzen concludes the interview with a discussion of his current work with Raphael Katzen, PE, his marriage to and life with Selma M. Katzen, and his friendship with Donald and Mildred Topp Othmer.
Chalmer Kirkbride begins the interview by describing his family background and childhood in Oklahoma and Kansas. During high school, Kirkbride's interests were influenced by his brother-in-law, a chemist for Sherwin-Williams. Kirkbride studied chemical engineering at the University of Michigan and spent summers working in the oil fields. He was recruited on campus by Standard Oil of Indiana and worked at the Whiting refinery. Kirkbride also worked for the Pan American Transport Company and Magnolia Petroleum Corporation before being appointed as the first distinguished engineering professor at Texas A&M University. In 1947, Kirkbride returned to industry when he was recruited by the Houdry Process Corporation. He became president of Houdry before moving to Sun Oil Company, where he created a commercial development department and began taking an active interest in environmental issues. After his retirement Kirkbride became president of the Cecil County Anti-Pollution league, founded Kirkbride Associates, and participated in board activities at Widener University.
Joseph Labovsky opens the interview with a discussion of his childhood in Ukraine and his family experiences there after his father emigrated to the United States in 1914. Labovsky moved with his mother and siblings to Komarine, a village adjacent to Chernobyl on the Dnieper River, where the family survived the Communist Revolution, civil war, famine, and a pogrom which killed fifteen of the twenty Jewish families there. In 1922, Labovsky's father was able to locate the family and make arrangements for a safe escape through Eastern Europe to the United States. Labovsky describes childhood interactions with the Polish and Red Armies in Komarine; impressions of settling in Wilmington, Delaware, where his father was a successful tailor; resuming his early education; and learning English. Next, Labovsky discusses his high school graduation and his father's successful efforts to secure him a job at DuPont, where he began working as lab assistant for Dr. Wallace Carothers' research group. He reflects upon his experiences and perceptions of early nylon work. Labovsky also looks back on his relationships with other scientists, particularly his mentor Carothers who directed him towards a DuPont college scholarship. In 1930, Labovsky began training at Bliss Electrical College but transferred after one year to the Pratt Institute, where he earned a degree in industrial chemical engineering. In 1934, he graduated and, after struggling in the Depression-era job market, happily accepted an offer to return to Carothers' research group and nylon development work. The interview continues as Labovsky details both the research group's work testing polymers and discovering polymer 66, and differences in the work environments under Carothers and, later, George Graves. After a discussion of work to develop the fiber 66 commercial process, Labovsky shares recollections of Carothers and the circumstances surrounding his untimely death in 1937. Throughout the second half of the interview, he chronicles the commercial development and success of nylon, providing details on spinning, drawing, quality control, and commercial processing. Labovsky describes problems and solutions in the history of nylon, including his War Production Award and three-part “A” bonus for reducing nylon waste through procedures to repair spinnerets during the Korean War. He describes his career path from laboratory technician to process control foreman to management training specialist for DuPont International--emphasizing the importance of troubleshooting, problem solving, and standard practice procedures throughout. The interview closes with comments on safety in nylon production and DuPont's overall safety record.
Jerry McAfee begins this interview by discussing his parents and his childhood in Port Arthur, Texas. He became interested in chemical engineering at an early age because of the influence of his father who worked for Texaco and Gulf. McAfee studied chemical engineering at the University of Texas and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He worked for five years as a research and operating engineer for Universal Oil Products Company before accepting a position as technical specialist with Gulf Oil Corporation in Port Arthur. His career with Gulf took him to Pennsylvania, London, and Toronto. He served as Chairman of the Board and CEO of Gulf for six years before retiring in 1981. McAfee ends his interview by reflecting on his forty-year career in chemical engineering.
Robert L. McNeil, Jr. begins his interview by discussing his parent's heritage and the evolution of the Firm of Robert McNeil, the drugstore started by his grandfather. As young men, McNeil and his brother worked as errand boys for their father. During the summers, McNeil traveled, working on a ranch and as a camp counselor. McNeil attended high school at Germantown Academy, and went to Yale University to study physiological chemistry and bacteriology. After receiving his B.S. degree, he returned to Philadelphia. Subsequent to his grandfather's death, McNeil, at the young age of twenty, began his career in the family business, which by then had evolved into McNeil Laboratories, Inc., headed by his father, R. Lincoln McNeil. By attending pharmaceutical conferences as well as enrolling in the Philadelphia College of Pharmacy's four-year program and Temple University's Graduate Pharmacy School course in pharmacology, under Professor James Munch, McNeil was able to gain the experience necessary to eventually head a successful pharmaceutical company. One of McNeil's first challenges was helping McNeil Laboratories update their manufacturing practices in keeping with the new Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act of 1938. With his strong knowledge of pharmacology, and the advice of many of the top men in Philadelphia's medical field, McNeil was able to introduce what would become some of the top-selling pharmaceuticals in the nation, including Butisol and eventually Tylenol. While helping McNeil Laboratories to reach a new level of success, McNeil was on the board of many pharmaceutical organizations, and was the president of the Philadelphia Drug Exchange, as well as the Philadelphia branch of the American Pharmaceutical Association. McNeil also found time to marry and to help raise three children, along with a stepson from his wife's previous marriage. In 1959, McNeil Laboratories was sold to Johnson & Johnson and after a seven-year “transitional” period, McNeil retired and entered the venture capital field. He also devoted time to the study of our Colonial history and material culture and to the development of The Barra Foundation (originally named The Robert L. McNeil, Jr. Foundation). McNeil concludes his interview with a short comment on his views of the fast evolution of today's pharmaceutical field.
Arthur Mendolia begins the interview with a discussion of his family and childhood. After graduating from high school in Youngstown, Ohio, Mendolia entered Case Western Reserve University in 1934, majoring in chemical engineering. Financing education during the Depression was difficult, and Mendolia worked at Youngstown Steel Door Company to make money. He received his B.S. in 1941 and began to work at DuPont as a research engineer. Mendolia spent thirteen years in DuPont’s adiponitrile plant in Niagara Falls, occasionally commuting to a plant Charleston, West Virginia. In 1954, Mendolia was named Assistant Director of Research of DuPont’s Electrochemicals Department, a position he held for two years before moving into sales as the Assistant General Manager. In 1966, Mendolia became the Assistant General Manager of the Explosives Department. There he sold DuPont’s chemical process for making acrylonitrile to Amoco Chemical Company. DuPont recognized Mendolia’s exemplary management skills and promoted him to Vice President of Explosives in 1970. In 1972, Mendolia met Ralph Landau while negotiating a purchase of ethylene glycol for DuPont. Later that year, DuPont recommended Mendolia for a position in the U.S. Department of Defense [DOD]. There, Mendolia learned more about management, organization, finances, and worked personally with President Gerald Ford. After two years with the DOD, Mendolia became president of Ralph Landau’s company, Halcon International. Later, he became Chairman of Oxirane, a Halcon and Arco joint venture. With Oxirane, Mendolia set up branch offices in Eton, England, and Houston, Texas, and set up Oxirane’s R&D department. He worked to establish uniformity and standards within the company. In 1981, Mendolia and Cy Baldwin bought their own chemical company, CasChem, Inc., a castor oil and polyurethane production company. Then Baldwin and Mendolia purchased Cosan, a biocide company, in 1985. In 1987, these companies officially had their names changed to Cambrex Corporation. Mendolia concludes the interview with a discussion of purchasing chemical companies, management issues, his family, and hobbies.
George Rathmann begins the interview with a discussion of his family background and childhood years in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. At an early age, Rathmann developed an interest in chemistry, which was partially fueled by both his elder brother and brother-in-law, who were chemists, and his high-school chemistry teacher, Mr. Leaker. After high school, Rathmann attended Northwestern University, where he later earned his B.S. in physical chemistry. After receiving his B.S. , Rathmann intended to go on to medical school. However, his desire to work on the research end of medicine was strong, and he decided to continue in physical chemistry, receiving his PhD from Princeton University in 1952. Even before Rathmann finished his PhD thesis, he was hired by 3M Company as a research chemist. In his twenty-one years with 3M, Rathmann worked in many capacities, rising through the ranks to become the Manager of X-ray Systems in 1969. Rathmann credits his nurturing and positive experience at 3M as being very influential during his future career. Rathmann left 3M in 1972 to become President of Litton Medical Systems. Disliking the environment and philosophy of Litton, Rathmann left in 1975 to join Abbott Laboratories as Vice President of Research and Development in the Diagnostics Division. Rathmann enjoyed the aspects of managing research and development initiatives. While with Abbott, Rathmann first became interested in recombinant DNA. His desire to learn more about DNA served as the impetus for his career move into the then-emerging field of biotechnology. Rathmann left Abbott and joined Amgen in 1980, where he still serves as Chairman Emeritus. As Amgen's Chairman, President and CEO, Rathmann worked very hard to procure the venture capital needed to start-up a major biotech company. Amgen burst into the world of biotechnological discovery with Dr. Fu Kuen Lin cloning the human erythropoietin gene, which led to the development of Amgen's Epogen and Neupogen. In 1983, Rathmann joined the Board of the newly formed Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO), serving as Chairman in 1987-88. Working with his colleagues in the biotechnology world, Rathmann felt that his time with BIO was a great learning experience. By 1990, Rathmann felt that he had accomplished all that he could with Amgen and became Chairman of ICOS Corporation. Rathmann concludes the interview with thoughts on his years at ICOS and the future of biotechnology.
Howard E. Simmons, Jr., born 17 June 1929, begins the interview describing his family history. The men on his father's side were merchant marines; his maternal grandfather was an entomologist from Germany and descendant of noted entomologist Jacob Hübner. Simmons, an only child growing up in Norfolk, Virginia, pursued early chemistry interests in a home laboratory and graduated high school near the top of his class. Drawn to Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) because of its post-World War II reputation, he studied chemistry and conducted research under Jack D. Roberts. Earning a BS in 1951, he continued at MIT with Roberts and Arthur C. Cope, completing PhD research on benzyne, trans-cycloöctene oxide, and cyclobutenes obtained from adducts of acetylene. Here Simmons describes coursework, professors, research, colleagues, and MIT's lab atmosphere. In 1953, Simmons met Theodore L. Cairns, science director in DuPont's Chemical Department, who invited him for a DuPont visit that led to Simmons becoming a member of research staff in the Central Research Department (CRD) in 1954. He began research on polyacetylenes but quickly moved to fluoroketones. His early studies on structure and mechanisms led to the Simmons-Smith reaction, the first general synthesis of cyclopropanes, and a related patent. Here, he discusses this research, relevant colleagues, and thiacyanocarbons studies before moving on to work with Harvard University's Robert B. Woodward and proteges, including Tadamichi Fukunaga and research on spiroconjugation. Simmons mentions collaborations in quantum chemistry and topology with Rudolph Pariser and Richard E. Merrifield, and he details Cairns' program of interaction between DuPont and European universities. He describes trends in turnover from CRD into industrial departments and in company support for publications and basic research. Also discussed are his CRD promotions from Research Supervisor in 1959, to Associate Director of Research in 1970, Director of Research in 1974, Director in 1979, and Vice President in 1983. In the late 1960s, Simmons began collaborations with Chung Ho Park to synthesize macrobiotic amines, large rings containing hydrocarbon cavities. He describes this and related research on crown ethers and their relationships to work by Nobel Laureates Charles Pedersen and Jean-Marie Lehn. He next summarizes additional publications; collaborations with scientists at Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule (ETH) and with Joseph Bunnett, George Hammond, and Jack Leonard; and associations with the University of Chicago and the University of Delaware. Finally, he discusses work as Director under Irving Shapiro and Richard Heckert, and the growth of CRD under Ed Jefferson; CRD accomplishments in molecular biology and superconductivity, including a DNA-sequence reading machine; and Senior Science Advisor and retirement work with DuPont and other organizations, including the University of Delaware Research Foundation, the National Academy of Sciences, and the National Science Foundation. He closes with a description of his sons' DuPont careers and comments on scientific misconduct.
Gordon A. Cain begins the interview by discussing his early influences from the chemical and engineering disciplines. He next recounts his undergraduate education at Louisiana State University during the Great Depression. He describes his first jobs in the chemical industry and his first patents. He enlisted during World War II as a captain and served in the Pacific with an Army heavy mortar company. After the war he worked in scientific intelligence in Germany. Returning to the United States, Cain shifted the direction of his career away from chemical engineering and into management, consulting and ownership of various chemical and high technology concerns. Cain then discusses his experiences as head of Vista, Cain Chemical and the Sterling Group and the impact of venture capital and leveraged buyouts on his career and on the chemical industry. He describes his philosophy and standards for running these large companies, including employee ownership and the Deming system. Cain concludes the interview with a discussion of his family and hobbies and an analysis of the changing business climate.