William S. Stavropoulos begins the interview with a discussion of his family's Grecian ancestry. He describes their migration and eventual settlement in the United States. Stavropoulos goes on to recount his childhood and education in the small, tight-knit community of Bridgehampton, New York, where his high school teacher, Robert Smith, sparked his interest in science. In 1961, Stavropoulos attended Fordham University, where he received a BS in pharmacy. Having received his PhD in medical chemistry from the University of Washington, Stavropoulos was hired at Dow Chemical as a research chemist. He remained in Dow Chemical to act as business manager for several departments. Then in 1980, he embarked on the path to becoming the CEO of Dow, beginning with his promotion to Commercial Vice President of Dow Latin America. During that time period, he and his family relocated to Coral Gables, Florida. In 1995, Mr. Stavropoulos was named CEO of Dow Chemical Company. Mr. Stavropoulos concludes the interview with his thoughts on winning the American Chemical Industry Medal in 2001 from the Society of Chemical Industry.
Edgar Woolard begins the interview with a description of his family and childhood years in Washington, North Carolina. Woolard's parents encouraged him to excel in both academic and social environments. As a high-school student, Woolard held an interest in mathematics. After graduation, Woolard enrolled in North Carolina State University as a nuclear engineering major. Woolard enjoyed college life and was involved in several extra-curricular activities, including serving as house manager for his fraternity. In his junior year, he switched his major to industrial engineering and received his BS in this field in 1956. Shortly after graduating from NC State, Woolard married his junior-high-school sweetheart and accepted a position at Alcoa in Maryville, Tennessee. Woolard left Alcoa after one year to serve a six-month term in the US Army. Upon his return, he was offered a job at DuPont in industrial engineering. After two years, he was promoted into management as a supervisor, a position that Woolard relished. He quickly rose through the ranks at DuPont, gaining valuable learning experiences from each promotion. Woolard entered DuPont's Planning Division in 1976, where he oversaw many breakthroughs in DuPont polymers, especially Dacron production. Throughout his career, Woolard helped shape DuPont into a more streamlined and environmentally friendly company. In the late 1970s, DuPont responded to a spike in oil prices and high inflation by reducing senior management and combining departments. In 1983, under DuPont's new system, Woolard was given responsibility for three departments: Agricultural Chemicals Division, Medical Division, and Photo Products Division. He served in that capacity for three years before becoming Vice Chairman and Chief Operating Officer. Woolard became CEO in 1987 and worked to both streamline and evenly downsize DuPont for the good of the company. Although this period was difficult, his efforts proved successful for both DuPont and its employees. For his earnest reorganization of DuPont, Woolard received the Chemical Industry Medal in 1998. Woolard concluded the interview with a discussion of DuPont's major achievements during his career, retirement, and thoughts on his family.
J. Lawrence Wilson begins the interview with a discussion of his childhood and early education. Wilson grew up in Rosedale, Mississippi, and attended Culver Military Academy in Culver, Indiana. After high school, he received a Naval Reserves Officer Training Corps scholarship to attend Vanderbilt University, where he majored in mechanical engineering. Wilson graduated in 1958, and he then served in the Navy for several years as a member of the SEABEEs, stationed in Bermuda. When he returned, Wilson attended Harvard Business School, receiving his MBA in 1963. After graduate school, Wilson came to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, with a friend to start a private equity firm. Two years later, he joined Rohm and Haas Company. Wilson discusses his experiences in operations research and as treasurer for Rohm and Haas subsidiary Warren-Teed. He also talks about his views on scientific innovation. Wilson further addresses the company's electronics business, his time in Europe, and the changes in Rohm and Haas and the chemical industry, in general, over the past three decades. Wilson concludes the interview with a discussion of the chemical industry's environmental concerns, Rohm and Haas's acquisition of Morton International, his work with the Chemical Manufacturers Association, and his family.
Jack B. St. Clair begins with a description of his background and early childhood in Roanoke, Virginia, where his extended family was involved with the railroad. His father's work with the Public Health Service in 1931 led the family to Shreveport, Louisiana, a center for the oil and gas industry, where St. Clair was first exposed to engineering. Excelling in science and math, he won several scholarships and with the guidance of his high school principal decided upon chemical engineering studies at Tulane University. He graduated in 1940 and accepted a position as technical trainee, gas department, at Shell Oil Company's Houston, Texas refinery. During World War II, he worked in sulfuric acid alkylation and toluene extraction plants and was promoted to control laboratory assistant manager. In 1945 he became assistant manager, manufacturing technological department, New York, then moved to the Wood River, Illinois refinery, where he advanced through a series of assistant managerships before becoming department manager of catalytic reforming, gaining experience with facilities' operations and later with design work through his 1954 return to New York as assistant manager, head office, manufacturing technical department. Despite the lack of formal training, St. Clair readily accepted increasing responsibilities, recognizing he was being groomed for higher management. In 1956 he was sent to the Martinez, California refinery as assistant superintendent and undertook a six-month study of the outlook for West coast operations. The study and ensuing arguments proved good training for St. Clair, whose next position was plant superintendent in Wilmington, California; with responsibility for all operations, he acquired experience with government and environmental concerns. After briefly serving as Houston refinery superintendent, he followed mentor H. M. L. Love's urging and reluctantly moved to England as Shell International Petroleum Company, North American Division head. In this and subsequent positions as New York Head Office general manager, he interacted with top Shell executives, acquiring experience which proved key to his success. In 1965 he became a Brookings Institution public affairs fellow, gaining training and insight in government-business interactions through assignments with the U. S. Interior and Congress. He returned to Shell Transportation and Supplies as general manager then vice president, but was quickly promoted to Shell Chemical Company president in 1967, a position he occupied until his retirement in 1979. As president he undertook a major reorganization, focusing on expanding olefins business and integrating the oil and chemical sides of the company; his success is reflected in growth in sales and profits at Shell Chemical during his presidency. Here St. Clair describes relationships with Shell Oil Presidents H. Bridges and J. F. Bookout, the energy crisis, and Shell's experience with detergents and Saudi Arabian crude oil. Also discussed are fragmentation and government control in the chemical industry; the EPA; and creativity, innovation, and new technology. The interview ends with reflections on St. Clair's Society of Chemical Industry and Tulane University awards and a description of his children's careers.
The interview begins with Edward Donley describing his early years growing up on his family's farm and attending a one-room schoolhouse. After graduating from high school, Donley joined the Civilian Conservation Corps and, after applying to several colleges, attained a scholarship to Lawrence Technological University in Detroit, Michigan. As a senior working towards a Bachelor of Mechanical Engineering, Donley began mechanical drafting work part-time for Detroit's newly established Air Products Company. Donley describes his college education during the war and compares his life- long experiences with Lawrence Tech and Air Products, watching both institutions develop from fledgling to flourishing. During Donley's early career, Air Products work involved military contracts to develop portable units for extracting oxygen from the air. With the cancellation of military contracts after World War II, the company declined and Donley went to work temporarily for Continental Aviation and Engineering Company, returning after Air Products moved to Emmaus, Pennsylvania, to rebuild, Donley recalls his professional development as a manager and engineer, and his close relationship with mentor Leonard Pool. As Air Products grew through the contributions of Pool, Carl Anderson, and others, Donley rose through the ranks to take on increasing responsibility, eventually playing a large role in developing liquid oxygen plants first to fulfill Air Force contracts and later for commercial production. Donley next details Air Products' involvement with hydrogen for ammonia production, and eventually with liquid hydrogen. He describes the recruitment and contribution of several engineers and managers, the change in Air Products' work environment from family to professional emphasis, and the reasons and strategy of the company's move into the chemical business. In the final section of the interview, Donley examines his presidency, beginning with Pool's gradual transfer of responsibility, the origins and emphasis of Air Products' environmental division, and the institution of the matrix management system. He discusses his views on the role of engineering in long-term planning and the importance of recruitment, career development, and safety programs; he also describes several important individuals who contributed to Air Products' later development, he closes with comments on American educational reform and entrepreneurial efforts, scientific innovation, changes in management agendas over the years, and federal regulation of business.
Delbert Meyer begins his oral history with a description of his family life as a youth in Maynard, Iowa. He was uncertain of his future career choice and served for two years in the U. S. Navy. Influential professors at Wartburg College and later at the University of Iowa fueled his interest in chemistry. Meyer spent thirty-nine years with Amoco, beginning as an exploratory researcher for Standard Oil Company in 1953 and, later, becoming a research consultant at Amoco in 1992. During his career at Amoco Corporation, Meyer developed a faster and more economical method for producing purified terephthalic acid (PTA), the major material used to make polyester. He eventually moved into research management and product development. Meyer concluded with a discussion scientific innovation as a result of need for products in the marketplace, speculation on the future of research and development management in the chemical sciences, and reflections on winning the 1995 Perkin Medal.
David Bryant begins the interview with a discussion of his childhood. Bryant grew up in North Carolina as one of seven children. He began working at age ten, and held various jobs until he earned a scholarship to Wake Forest University. Influenced by his high school science teacher, Bryant double-majored in chemistry and math. While at Wake Forest, he became a lab assistant, and conducted some synthetic research. After receiving his BS in 1958, Bryant decided to attend graduate school at Duke University. Focusing on organic chemistry, he worked on the conversion of organic compounds into dianions under Charlie Hauser. Bryant earned his PhD in 1961 and immediately took a job with Union Carbide Corporation. He worked on developing a method of producing vinyl acetate without halide, and later worked with benzyl acetate, acrylic acid, and rhodium triphenylphosphite in the Oxo process. In the 1970s, Bryant became involved in the scientific side of intellectual property disputes for Union Carbide. Bryant concludes the interview with comments on the nature of industrial research and development, the difficulties of government regulation, and his approaching retirement in 2000.
Vincent L. Gregory begins this interview with a description of growing up in a family of nine during the Depression. While deciding between entering the priesthood and a business career, Gregory opted to study economics at Princeton University. He finished a year at Princeton before enlisting in the US Army Air Force at the start of World War II, and served as a fighter pilot in Europe during the war. After the war, Gregory simultaneously gained both a Bachelor's degree at Princeton University and a Master's degree at Harvard University. Then in 1949, he began his career at the Rohm and Haas Company by conducting internal auditing in three plants. After three years, Gregory was transferred to France to start up the first Rohm and Haas plant outside the United States. He then ran Rohm and Haas' agricultural-chemical operations in England before becoming Director of European Operations. Under his leadership, Rohm and Haas-Europe's share of total company profits increased from one to thirty percent, building on postwar conditions and Rohm and Haas' quality products and customer service. Gregory then returned to the United States to head operations in Latin America and the Pacific. In 1970, F. Otto Haas chose Gregory as the first non-family president of Rohm and Haas. Gregory instituted such changes as a ten percent across-the-board downsizing, adding board directors from outside Rohm and Haas, and revamping the company's management system. The oil crisis, along with DuPont Lycra's increasing market share in polyesters, led to Gregory's decision to withdraw Rohm and Haas' stretch fabric, Anim-8, from the market. Gregory then focused the company's product lines on polymers, plastics, and agricultural chemicals. Additionally, he tightened the company's environmental controls when bis-chloromethyl ether was discovered to cause cancer in rats and participated in hearings leading to the passage of the Toxic Substance Control Act (TSCA). Gregory's support of R&D led to the development of Vacor, which was later taken off the market, and Blazer. Here, Gregory discusses the CEO's role in supporting R&D, his views on teamwork, and the future of innovation in the chemical industry. He ends the interview by describing his work with the Chemical Industry Institute of Toxicology (CIIT) and the Center for Cancer Prevention at Harvard University.
Vincent Calarco begins the interview with a discussion of his childhood years in New York City. Calarco was an ambitious and hard-working student who enjoyed chemistry and had a firm desire to attend college. After graduation from New York High School, Calarco attended Polytechnic University of New York, receiving his BS in chemical engineering in 1963. While excelling in the intense environment at Polytechnic University, Calarco worked as a draftsman for Syska and Hennessey during the summers. In the summer of 1962, Calarco accepted an internship at Proctor & Gamble's Port Ivory facility on Staten Island. After graduating from Polytechnic, Calarco spent the summer in Europe before returning to work for Proctor & Gamble in September 1963. Proctor & Gamble relocated Calarco to St. Louis in January 1964, where he remained for two years. From 1966 to 1968, Calarco served in the US Army at the Ballistics Research Laboratory in Aberdeen, Maryland. After his military service, he briefly worked for Johnson & Johnson before attending Harvard University Graduate School of Business. Calarco received his MBA in 1970 and began a new career at NL Industries that same year. After eight years with NL, Calarco decided to join Uniroyal Chemical Company as General Manager of chemicals and polymers. The next year, 1979, Calarco became President of Uniroyal at the age of thirty-six. Calarco set high-standards for employees at Uniroyal and enjoyed the challenges of his position. In 1985 Calarco left Uniroyal and became the CEO of Crompton & Knowles (Crompton Corporation), where he is currently Chairman of the Board. Calarco performed a major reorganization and restructure to Crompton upon his arrival. His efforts advanced Crompton from a seven hundred million-dollar company the 3.1 billion-dollar corporation that exists today. Calarco concludes the interview with a discussion about his role in the chemical industry community and thoughts on his family and future endeavors.
W. H. Clark begins this interview by reviewing his growing-up years in Big Stone Gap, Virginia, and his early interest in journalism. He continues with his subsequent decision to major in industrial engineering at North Carolina State University, where he became interested in technical selling. He then discusses his first job at SOHIO as a sales engineer and his move to Nalco Chemical Company, where he spent the rest of his career. He describes his early experiences at Nalco, as well as the role Nalco's technical salespeople play in meeting customer needs and inventing new products. As the just-retired CEO, he discusses chemical industry changes and their impact on the chemical industry: most notably the environmental movement, Bhopal, and today's government regulations. He further presents his views on promoting successful creativity, innovation, and teamwork; management-employee relations; communicating company goals to outside audiences; and sales and management opportunities. He then discusses his current project, helping set up technical selling training programs in US universities. He closes with his views on the future of chemical innovation in this country.
John E. Franz begins this interview by discussing his early life in Springfield, Illinois, during the Depression. He then describes his undergraduate work at the University of Illinois and his contacts there with Roger Adams, Elliott Alexander, Virginia Bartow, Reynold Fuson, and Carl Marvel. Moving on to his graduate work at the University of Minnesota, Franz contrasts his studies there in physical organic chemistry with his training in practical synthetic organic chemistry at Illinois. Next, Franz discusses choosing to work at the Monsanto Company, rather than DuPont. After describing his first projects, Franz recalls his transfer from the organic chemicals division to the agricultural division, where he worked on synthetic herbicides. This work led to Franz's discovery of glyphosate, a natural plant growth inhibitor that forms the active ingredient in Roundup, an environmentally friendly herbicide that has become one of the most widely used herbicides in the world. He describes the aftereffects of his discovery—the reactions of Monsanto and other companies, and the steps involved in commercial production of Roundup. Franz then examines his later work to understand amine and phosphine compounds as well as plant growth inhibitors. Discussing herbicides in light of current environmental and governmental regulations, he compares Roundup with the more potent herbicides favored by the industry today. Finally, Franz discusses his forthcoming book on the history of glyphosate, his final years at Monsanto, and his retirement.
Marion David Francis begins his interview with a discussion of his childhood in Canada. Deeply influenced by his industrious parents and siblings, Francis worked his way through high school and college at a logging camp. He received his BA in chemistry in 1946 and his M.A. in chemistry in 1949, both from the University of British Columbia. Francis married shortly after, and he and his wife moved to Iowa, where he continued his studies at the University of Iowa, obtaining a PhD in biochemistry in 1953. Francis accepted a position with Procter & Gamble in 1952. His first work there involved research on detergents and skin penetration. Procter & Gamble then moved Francis into hair research. Finally, Francis moved to the dental section, where he became involved with fluoride research. Using both human and bovine dental samples, Francis explored enamel resistance to calcium fluoride. He also proved in other lab tests on rats that fluoride had an anti-enzymatic effect on teeth, and that fluoride treatments helped protect rats' teeth from decay. Francis continued to do dental research on calculus and its safe removal from teeth without damaging the enamel. Speaking on scientific innovation, Francis touches on team effort and support, as well as management and research and development. Francis concludes the interview with a reflection on winning his scientific awards and final thoughts on his family.
James D. Idol begins his interview with a description of his childhood in Harrisonville, Missouri. His interest in chemistry was encouraged by neighbors and by friends. He attended William Jewell College in Liberty, Missouri, where he studied chemistry under Professor Frank Edson and graduated with an AB in 1949. He immediately went on to graduate school at Purdue University, where he studied under Dr. Earl McBee. His interest in industrial chemistry led him to minor in chemical engineering. Upon receiving his PhD in 1955, he went to work for Standard Oil of Ohio, where he soon pioneered an economically advantageous process for the production of acrylonitrile. He then served as part of the team that developed a plant in Lima, Ohio for the commercial production of acrylonitrile in a record-breaking three years. He then turned his attention to novel uses for acrylonitrile, which led to Barex resin, among other things. In 1977, he moved on the Ashland Chemical, where he occupied a position that combined management and scientific duties. At Ashland, he developed the propylene-CO process for methyl methacrylate. His career in industry ended in 1988 when he was invited to become a professor at Rutgers University and head of the Center for Packaging Science and Engineering. He pays special attention to individuals who have influenced him throughout his life, and he concludes with some personal insights on the meanings of innovation, teamwork, and research in science and technology.
J. Roger Hirl begins the interview with a discussion of his early life and education. Hirl grew up in Iowa and Minnesota. After graduating from high school, Hirl attended the University of Iowa, earning his BLS in liberal studies in 1957. While he was still in school, Hirl was drafted to serve in the Korean War, returning to the University of Iowa two years later. His early focus in college was pre-med, but he soon switched to business and liberal arts. Hirl worked for Skelly Oil Company both during school and after graduation. In 1961, he joined Olin Mathieson Chemical Corporation, working in field sales. Six years later, he became a temporary assistant product manager in New York; this experience confirmed his desire to move into management at Olin. He continued to rise in sales management, moving from New York to Connecticut to Texas. He eventually became senior vice president of Olin Chemicals, a position he held until 1983, when he accepted an offer from Occidental Chemical Corporation (OxyChem). At Olin, Hirl was active in the litigation regarding DDT sediments and mercury emissions; as president of OxyChem, he became involved in the Love Canal situation. This interest in environmental concerns led him to become active in Responsible Care. Hirl also sought to improve OxyChem's safety record, and initiated special training programs. He discusses his view of chemical industry, his opinions on the future of chemical innovation, and OxyChem's involvement in the Asian market. Hirl concludes the interview with his reflections on winning the Chemical Industry Medal, a description of his family, his civic interests, and his views on attracting people to the chemical industry.
William H. Joyce begins his interview with a description of his early childhood. As a young man, Joyce was significantly influenced by both his parents, in particular his father, who instilled in Joyce a strong knowledge of business. Throughout his childhood, Joyce was very active, participating in sports such as golf and skiing, but also had a strong interest in chemistry. Very early in his academic career, before high school even, Joyce decided to become a chemical engineer, and, with that in mind, participated in many school science fairs. With a Navy scholarship, Joyce was able to attend college at Penn State University. While at Penn State, Joyce participated in numerous extracurricular activities, but also took his studies very seriously and found his time there quite enjoyable. After graduating, Joyce accepted a position at Union Carbide as a product development engineer. While at Union Carbide, Joyce received numerous promotions and worked in various capacities, from the R&D side of industry to speech writing for chairmen. Throughout his career at Union Carbide, spanning over forty years, Joyce made several contributions to his field, working to create a new transoceanic telephone cable to the UNIPOL process for creating high-density polyethylene. After a short time at Hercules Incorporated, in 2003, Joyce began to work at Nalco Company, where he continues to use his energy to create new and innovative techniques and products to solve problems in the water treatment and processing chemicals industry. Joyce concludes his interview by discussing current events as related to the chemical industry.
This interview with Frederick J. Karol begins with a short discussion of Karol's family background and childhood near Boston, Massachusetts. Following an early interest in chemistry, Karol in 1946 enrolled at Boston University and graduated with a BS in chemistry before enlisting for two years of military service. He worked for Union Carbide from 1956 to 1959, began a family, and then entered a graduate program at MIT, studying statistical thermodynamics and organic chemistry under Gardner Swain and conducting thesis research on isotope effects. He continued catalysis research upon his return to Carbide in 1962, eventually developing a variety of proprietary catalysts for use with a high density polyethylene gas phase process. Karol's contributions to the development of a gas phase process for making polyethylene products under low pressure helped to revolutionize the industry, as Union Carbide next developed this technology to commercial operations. The interview describes the worldwide licensing of the linear low density polyethylene process, its economic and environmental advantages, and the extension of this technology into synthetic rubbers; also discussed are the technical and management necessities for such innovative developments. Karol contributed to Carbide's collaboration with Shell Chemical Company, which produced polypropylene, improved the catalytic system to make a wider spectrum of polypropylenes, and eventually led to process licensing. Here Karol discusses kinetic and analytic studies to understand the fundamental principles and mechanisms of polymerization; catalyst requirements and testing involving screening of reactions, analysis of property indicators, and use of pilot plants for testing; and his role in guiding development. After describing Karol's education and subsequent research, the interview focuses on Union Carbide's history and work environment, support for R&D and publishing, and Karol's career progress and professional philosophies on management and scientific innovation. Karol describes the history of linear low density polyethylene, the development of both the Ziegler-Natta process and the UNIPOL process, and Union Carbide's licenses and worldwide ventures. The interview closes with a discussion of the future of R&D and the chemical industry, and the significance of the Perkin Medal.
Robert Kennedy begins the interview with a discussion of his family and growing up in Pittsburgh and New York. Kennedy initially considered a career in journalism, but his family persuaded him to pursue engineering. He entered Cornell University as a mechanical engineering major, receiving his BS in 1955. After graduation, Kennedy was offered several jobs in his field. He chose to work for Union Carbide Corporation due to his interest in Union Carbide's metallurgical industries; he worked in this area for twenty years. He began a management career with Union Carbide in the company's European division in Geneva, Switzerland. Upon his return to the United States seven years later, Kennedy became head of Linde Air Products Company, a division of Union Carbide. After the Bhopal incident, Kennedy adjusted his corporate management style as Union Carbide found itself in a transitional phase. The company embarked on a massive restructuring program. As CEO of Union Carbide, Kennedy helped to rebuild the image of chemical industry by serving as a representative with the Chemical Manufacturers Association (CMA). He helped to instill the Responsible Care program into CMA's agenda. He concludes the interview with reflections on education and thoughts on his family.
Doron Levin grew up in Johannesburg, South Africa, one of four children. His father was an auto mechanic and his mother a bookkeeper. Levin followed the science track in high school, and he was inspired to study chemistry when he attended an after-school program focused on geology, paleontology, and petrochemistry. He entered the chemical engineering department at the University of Witwatersrand with a bursary from Sasol. After completing his bachelor of science degree in chemical engineering, Levin obtained an honors degree in operations research from the University of South Africa while simultaneously working at Sasol. Since there was limited scope for advanced degrees in South Africa, Levin entered the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's (MIT) PhD program. During a summer internship at Exxon he worked with Stuart Soled, who has remained a friend as well as colleague and mentor. Levin obtained a master's degree in chemical engineering practice from having attended the David H. Koch School of Chemical Engineering Practice and a PhD in chemical engineering from MIT. Levin accepted a job with Mobil Oil Company working on catalysis in the corporate research department. After Mobil merged with Exxon Corporation, Levin continued to do basic and applied catalysis research and was assigned to a team working on methanol to olefins (MTO). He was transferred to Process Research to support the manufacture of catalysts and was tasked with developing the next generation of catalysts. He discovered TransPlusNG. From there he moved to Hydroprocessing, where he worked with Soled to develop next generation bulk metal hydrotreating catalysts similar to Nebula, which is based on his summer intern work with nickel molybdates. Nebula's catalytic effect is enormous, and finds wide-spread application in the production of cleaner fuels and lubricants. Levin is now an integrated project team leader (IPTL), but he will soon return to Catalyst Technology, this time as a Section Head, responsible for developing the professionals in his section as well as his own leadership qualities. He explains that this is typical of ExxonMobil's career development process, but he anticipates a great deal of added stress. Levin discusses patenting and publishing in the petroleum industry; competition, especially from China; and current research in the catalysis field. Levin is married and has three young children. He and his family live in Highland Park, New Jersey, close to New York City and to his work in Clinton, New Jersey. He has started a hobby of woodworking, making an oven for his twin daughters. He talks about his view of Americans and of cyclical anti-science attitudes. He says he would go into science again and would recommend it for his children, as he has found his career intellectually engaging, fun, and practical. He is definitely glad to have emigrated. Levin still works with Soled, whom he regards as his first mentor; José Santiesteban is another mentor and his current boss. Levin is proud of receiving the Moore Medal; it means outside recognition. His goals include raising his children well and one day being a global expert in catalysis. He believes that there is still room for much more development in the catalysis field.
James Roth begins this interview by discussing the origins of his interest in research and physical chemistry as well as the impacts of growing up in the Bronx, New York, attending the Bronx High School of Science, and serving in Iwo Jima at the age of nineteen. Next he examines his early intellectual strengths and proclivities and his undergraduate and graduate school work. He describes his early position with the Franklin Institute and his work there on solid propellants and photochemical smog. Then he discusses his move to General Aniline & Film Corporation, where he developed a safe process to produce synthetic rubber. He next discusses his move to Monsanto Company, where he developed heterogeneous catalyst characterization. Roth describes his work under Dr. Leo Spillane and the development of a technology that used noble metal catalysts to produce biodegradable linear olefins from linear paraffins. He also examines his discovery of a low-pressure technology for carbonylating methanol to acetic acid using a rhodium carbonyl iodide catalyst, and his work in homogeneous catalysis. In the process he expounds his views on successfully getting a plant from the pilot stage to full production stage. He touches on the patent competition between Monsanto and other companies, and airs his views on a successful patent process. He then discusses his move to Air Products and Chemicals, Inc., and his creating a world-class laboratory there. Finally, he ends the interview by reflecting on the learning curve for developing technology; the need for empowerment of chemists; and the chemical industry, its future, and the industrial parameters chemists need to achieve their full potential.
Norman Li begins the interview with a description of his family and childhood years in Fuzhou, China. After World War II, Li's family moved to Taiwan, where Li completed high school. Li then attended National Taiwan University, majoring in chemical engineering. He received his B.A. in 1954. Li's father encouraged him to further his education in the United States. Li attended Wayne State University, where he benefited from the care, support, and assurance of Professor Harold Donnelly. He received his M.S. in chemical engineering in 1957 and then attended Stevens Institute of Technology, receiving his PhD in 1963. Li accepted a position in the Process Division of Exxon Research and Engineering Company. Early in his career at Exxon, Li began thinking about liquid-membrane technology and applications. While with Exxon, Li received a combined total of 44 patents on either hydrocarbon separations or facilitated transport. Li was approached by Mary Good about a new career opportunity at UOP Co. After much deliberation, Li decided to make the move from research to research administration, becoming Director of Separation Science and Technology at UOP in 1981. As soon as he arrived at UOP, Li wrote a proposal that established a liquid-membrane research program. Li left UOP in 1988, joining Mary Good at Allied Signal Co. In 1995, Li decided to “retire” from Allied Signal and establish his own consulting firm, NL Chemical Technology, Inc. Li concludes the interview with a discussion of the future of chemical R&D, reflections on winning the Perkin Medal, and thoughts on his family.