Browse Oral Histories Alphabetically

Whitson Sadler, who was born in Bristol, Tennessee, discusses his early life in various places due to his father's work relocations, eventually earning a degree in economics at Sewanee, the University of the South, and then enlisting in the US Navy. After his service, Sadler graduated from the Harvard Business School, and began to work at Lazard Frères & Co. but ultimately left to become vice chairman and CEO of Solvay America. Sadler figured prominently in the Soltex Polymer Corporation board and the Chemical Manufacturers Association, and Solvay America prospered under his leadership before he retired.

For more information on Nina Salama, please visit the Pew Scholars in the Biomedical Sciences.

For more information on this oral history, please contact the Director of the Center for Oral History. 

Stephen R. J. Salton was born in Cambridge, England and grew up in New Jersey. During high school, he spent a summer in the Joel Oppenheim and Martin Nachbar labs at New York University. Salton entered the University of Pennsylvania, where he found biochemistry courses exciting, then entered New York University's MD/PhD program. There, he did research in pharmacology under Michael Shelanski and Lloyd Greene, making antibodies for work on PC12 cell surface glycoprotein response to nerve growth factor v (NGF) treatments. He grew interested in the evolution of molecular biology techniques into a widely accessible tool that can decrease the tedium of large-scale DNA analysis. He discusses the role of small labs, publishing, and funding, as well as Mount Sinai Medical School, where he now works.

Yolanda Sanchez's interest in science began in high school, doing some research on Achyla recurva. Sanchez attended University of Texas at El Paso and was awarded a Minority Access to Research Careers grant. She worked on tumor suppressor genes and became interested in cell cycle and DNA repair. She chose Ann Killary’s lab at the University of Texas at San Antonio, moving with Killary to the University of Texas at Houston, where she worked on microcell-mediated chromosome transfer. For a postdoc Sanchez went to at Baylor University to work on the cell cycle in yeast. She published three papers there, including a Science paper on Rad53 kinase, and found Chk1 in yeast and humans. Sanchez discusses her Pew Scholars application topic and benefits of winning the prize. She describes her experiences with education of laymen, including the politics often involved in that education. She discusses balancing home life with work life, advocating for government-mandated and government-provided child care. Sanchez concludes her interview with a call for ethics classes and a greater emphasis on ethics in the practice of science.

Mark A. Saper was born in New York City. As a child he was interested in math and biology, writing an exceptional paper on protein biosynthesis. Saper attended the University of Connecticut, spending summers working at his uncle's engineering firm and Janos Varga's laboratory. His advisor was a professor of biophysics who steered him into chemistry; organic chemistry sparked his interest in biology. While at graduate school at Rice University, he studied the structure of sterols in Florante Quiocho's lab, until a Weizmann fellowship sent him to Israel. There and in Germany he worked on ribosomal crystallography. He is now an assistant professor at the University of Michigan, teaching and working on the structure of protein tyrosine phosphatases and protein secretion in Yersinia.

Lewis Sarett begins his oral history interview by telling of his early life in Wisconsin and Illinois, the influence of his father, and some of his experience in college and graduate school. He then turns to his first assignment at Merck, the synthesis of cortisone. This is followed by a discussion of the efforts to discover a use for cortisone, the development of an economically viable synthesis of cortisone, and finally, the efforts to supply cortisone for public use. The next section of the interview deals with his movement into managerial positions, and this is followed by a discussion of a number of drugs developed under his direction, including Decadron, Amprol, Thibenzol, Indocin, Dolobid, and Clinoril. Interspersed in the interview are comments on the Merck organization and on the various presidents, research directors, and colleagues with whom he worked. A significant section deals with his accomplishments as President of Merck, Sharp and Dohme Research Laboratories and as Vice President for Science and Technology.

In this interview John Schaefgen begins with his family history and early life in Gross Point, Illinois. He then discusses the development of his interest in science, and describes his education, including his professors and fellow students at Northwestern University and Ohio State University. In the central portion of the interview, Schaefgen considers his association with Paul Flory at the Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company and recalls his move to the Pioneering Research Laboratory at Du Pont. He then describes his interests and accomplishments in polymer chemistry. The interview concludes with a discussion of his colleagues, professional society activities, and views on the characteristics of innovative research.

Harold Scheraga starts his oral history interview by recalling his childhood in Monticello, New York and then in Brooklyn, where he attended Brooklyn Boys High School, where he was attracted to Latin and mathematics. Scheraga decided to concentrate on chemistry when he began attending the City College of New York. Scheraga was offered a graduate position at Duke University, where the chemistry department was chaired by Paul Gross, himself a CCNY graduate. Along with his graduate research on the Kerr effect, Scheraga contributed to the wartime projects on the frangible bullet and on gas-phase halogenation. Scheraga consolidated his growing interest in biochemical areas by a postdoctoral year at Harvard. From there, he was appointed as an instructor in the chemistry department at Cornell, where he has spent the rest of his career, including a period (1960-1967) as chairman. During the 1970s, he was also a visiting professor at the Weizmann Institute. Scheraga describes the development of his research activities including the hydrodynamic properties of polymer solutions, which then led to his extensive work on protein structure and function. International collaboration has always been important to Scheraga, and he details his sabbaticals at the Carlsberg laboratory and his later association with the Weizmann Institute.

Thomas F. Schilling was born in Richmond, Virginia. He matriculated into Davidson College, majoring in biology. A class in physiological psychology led to an interest in neuroscience. Schilling entered the PhD program in the University of Michigan biology department, joining the laboratory of R. Glenn Northcutt to study the neuroanatomy of the visual system. Northcutt's departure, combined with a developing interest in zebrafish, led Schilling to apply to the PhD program at the University of Oregon. There, he worked in the lab of Charles Kimmel and made neural crest lineages in zebrafish his dissertation topic. Schilling accepted a postdoc at Imperial Cancer Research Fund in London, England, where he entered Philip Ingham's lab to study Drosophila and to help set up a zebrafish lab. Soon after his arrival, Christiane Nüsslein-Volhard asked Schilling to work at the Max Planck Institute in Tübingen, Germany, on craniofacial anomalies in zebrafish. After some time in Germany, he returned to London, where he rediscovered his interest in neural crest, but also discovered a mutation in the enzyme that synthesizes retinoic acid (RA), and RA became the second major focus of his lab. He then accepted an assistant professorship at University of California, Irvine. Schilling discusses funding in general, and the Pew Scholars Program in the Biomedical Sciences grant; compares the Wellcome grant with National Institutes of Health and other American grants; and reflects on benchwork, on his mentoring style, and on the necessity of informing the public about scientific endeavors.

Warren G. Schlinger begins his oral history interview by tracing his family heritage and discussing his introduction to chemistry: a Gilbert Chemistry Set owned by a friend. While a young man, Schlinger began to attend public lectures at California Institute of Technology where he eventually was accepted and completed his education, earning a doctorate in mechanical and chemical engineering. Schlinger spent the entirety of his career at the Texaco research lab in Montebello, California. Schlinger recollects the history of Texaco. He shares aspects of his private life--stories of meeting his wife Katharine, the successes of their three children, and the Warren and Katharine Schlinger Foundation that the Schlinger family established and manages.

Helga Schmid begins her oral history interview by discussing her interest in information sciences. After studying mathematics and physics at the Vienna University, she relocated to Belgium and she began training to be a computer programmer. In 1969 she joined the International Atomic Energy Agency [IAEA]. While there Schmid helped publish the first International Nuclear Information System Atomindex. In 1975, she moved on to the International Information System for the Agricultural Sciences and Technology (AGRIS). In 2000, she retired, after rising through the organization to become the head of AGRIS Processing. Schmid concludes the interview by discussing briefly her knowledge of AGRIS in its present state and sharing some of the positive experiences she had throughout her career as a computer analyst.

Herman Schroeder starts his oral history interview by discussing his family background and growing up in Brooklyn. After an early graduation he entered Harvard and set his mind on chemistry, in part influenced by his tutor, John Edsall. Staying on at Harvard for graduate study in the physical aspects of organic chemistry, Schroeder investigated the rates and mechanism of large ring closure. Arriving at the Du Pont Experimental Station in 1938, Schroeder outlines his initial assignments and his important wartime research on tire cord adhesives. Transferring to the Jackson Laboratories, he worked on both dyestuff synthesis and the mechanisms of dyeing synthetic fibers, as well as obtaining experience in production control. Moving to greater research responsibilities, Schroeder played an important role in the development of several polymers, which is described towards the end of the first interview. The interview concludes with some of Schroeder's retirement activities and a full account of the Louisville plant explosion.

Claire K. Schultz begins her oral history interview by discussing her childhood in south central Pennsylvania. Inspired by her grandmother's belief in her abilities, Schultz graduated from Juniata College in three years, and went on to medical school after a year of work in the Philadelphia State Hospital. Forced to leave medical school by the birth of her first child, Schultz went on to a job as a research assistant at the Wistar Institute of Anatomy and Biology, and then to Merck Sharp & Dohme, where she first became interested in information retrieval. Schultz campaigned to get an IBM 101 system. Schultz wrote her master's thesis at Drexel University in Library Science on the MSD library system. As one of the pioneer documentalists, Schultz worked at Sperry Rand Univac Corporation, and later at the Institute for the Advancement of Medical Communication. Schultz closes her interview with anecdotes about her post-retirement hobbies, and her work as a computer consultant in a local elementary school.

Erin M. Schuman was born in San Gabriel, California. She attended University of Southern California, initially interested in law. She switched to psychology and completed an an honors thesis with Laura Baker studying memory in twins. She decided to attend graduate school at Princeton because of Joseph Farley's work on learning in memory using invertebrate systems. She followed Farley to Indiana University, though returned to Princeton to complete her thesis. She then accepted a postdoctoral position at the Daniel V. Madison laboratory at Stanford studying long-term neuronal potentiation, culminating in a series of papers on synaptic transmission (two of which appeared in Science). Schuman then accepted a position at California Institute of Technology, studying decentralized production of proteins at the dendrites and synaptic feedback mechanisms and cadherins.

Glenn E. Schweitzer began his career as a Foreign Service Officer, moved to the staff of the Vice President’s Marine Science and Technology Council, and finally accepted a position at the US Agency for International Development.  He was then asked to manage the new Office of Toxic Substances in the US Environmental Protection Agency in 1974. He had four tasks: to ensure that  the Toxic Substances Control Act passed quickly; to deal with the “chemical of the month”; to help the Office of Air and Water deal with toxic chemicals under the their legislative authorities—the Clean Air Act and the Clean Water Act; and to upgrade data, especially testing data, being used throughout EPA. His concern now is that great efforts will devoted to amending TSCA, primarily for the sake of amending the law, with little likelihood of success, whereas other measures are available to use more effectively the law as written.

Miguel C. Seabra grew up in Lisbon, Portugal. His father had a great influence on his decision to enter medical school, where he worked under Fernanda Mesquita. Soon after, he was accepted into the doctoral program at University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center. He had trouble with lectures in English and suffered quite a bit of culture shock and homesickness at first. In Joseph Goldstein's lab, he continued his research on cell cholesterol metabolism, helped purify the geranylgeranyltransferase enzyme, and published a paper in Cell. Eventually, Seabra moved to the Imperial College School of Medicine in London. He compares scientific collaboration in the US and England, explains his research on prenylation of Rab proteins, and talks about the support he has received to cure choroideremia.

Nadrian C. Seeman grew up in Highland Park, Illinois. He obtained his PhD in crystallography from the University of Pittsburgh; then took a postdoc at Columbia University, working with Cyrus Levinthal, and a second postdoc in Alexander Rich's lab at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Rich discovered hybridization, which is the basis of all of Seeman's DNA nanotechnology work. Seeman began his professional career in the biology department at State University of New York at Albany. When Neville Kallenbach left the University of Pennsylvania to become chairman of the chemistry department at New York University, he recruited Seeman to join the NYU faculty. Seeman was influenced by the Escher print Depth to develop both three-dimensional (cube-like and similar) lattices of DNA, a process requiring branched DNA and sticky ends. As a result he is often referred to as the father of DNA nanotechnology. (He says he is sometimes called the father of single-stranded synthetic DNA topology because he recognized that DNA is the ideal synthetic topological component. ) He founded the International Society for Nanoscale Science, Computation, and Engineering (ISNSCE). He feels that other applications of his work include nanoelectronics and a way to look at what happens in living systems on the molecular scale by using DNA crystals to scaffold biomacromolecules to establish their structures and interactions with other species. Seeman shared the 2010 Kavli Prize in Nanoscience from the Norwegian Academy of Sciences with Donald Eigler for their development of unprecedented methods to control matter on the nanoscale. " Seeman founded the field, but there are now more than a hundred groups worldwide in DNA nanotechnology. Seeman's current work deals with extending the crystallographic aspects of his DNA constructs, as well as automatic molecular weaving.

Harry Sello begins his oral history interview with a review of his childhood which included emigration from Russia. Sello became interested in chemistry and completed undergraduate work in organic chemistry before applying this knowledge to his PhD research at the University of Missouri. William Shockley recruited him to Shockley Semiconductor Laboratory. At Shockley and then at Fairchild Semiconductor, Sello worked on a variety of chemical aspects of semiconductor manufacturing. Sello concentrated on the transfer of silicon transistor technology to Societa Generale Semiconduttore in Italy, negotiating cultural and industrial boundaries. In 1980, he began Harry Sello Associates after Fairchild Semiconductor was sold to Schlumberger Exploration. Sello concludes the interview with reflections on his current role as an expert witness.

Charles N. Serhan grew up in Brooklyn and did his undergraduate work at State University of New York at Stony Brook, where he studied biochemistry and immunohistochemistry. Michael Heidelberger persuaded Serhan to go to graduate school at New York University and to work in the lab of Gerald Weissmann, where his interest in the role of neutrophils in inflammation led to Serhan's doctoral research. After finishing his PhD, Serhan became a visiting scientist at the Karolinska Institute. He collaborated with James L. Madarain studying white cells' interaction with epithelial cells, trying to accelerate healing. He studied lipoxins in trout and describes the accidental discovery of trout lipoxin. Serhan says that today's scientists lead pressured lives, and should not be evaluated by grants they receive or laboratory size.

William C. Sha grew up in Chicago. His father and mother worked at the Argonne National Laboratory. During high school, he published with Ejup N. Ganic, later President of Bosnia and Herzegovina. While studying at the University of Chicago, he worked at Argonne National Laboratory with Ely M. Gelbard, a formative experience that convinced him to enter an MD/PhD program. He attended Washington University, where he studied immunology with Dennis Y. Loh before accepting a postdoc with David Baltimore at Rockefeller University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Sha then accepted a position at the University of California, Berkeley. He conducts immunology research on the role of costimulatory molecules in regulating the immune response and on B- and T lymphocyte cell interactions.

Irving Shapiro begins his oral history interview by discussing his parents' backgrounds and the influence of his father's interest in law and accounting. He describes the path which took him from a private practice in Minneapolis, to the US Office of Price Administration during WWII, to the US Department of Justice's Criminal Division, where his highly publicized work prosecuting eleven Communists brought him to the attention of the DuPont legal department. Shapiro recalls how his appointment as a DuPont General Counsel heralded a new era for the company in terms of its attitude toward Jews. In considering his advancement to CEO, Shapiro emphasizes his relationships with Walter Carpenter, Crawford Greenewalt, and Charles McCoy, as well as his work with the industrial departments and in disputes involving General Motors, Ford Motors, and Ralph Nader. Shapiro explains how his management and communication practices impacted on public and internal views of DuPont and allowed talented employees to blossom. Finally, Shapiro describes his post-DuPont work. 

Phillip A. Sharp's oral history interview begins with a discussion of his family, then discusses his childhood in Falmouth, Kentucky. He received his BA in chemistry and math from Union College in 1966. Then, Sharp went on to earn his PhD in chemistry from the University of Illinois. Sharp went to Caltech initially for his post-doctoral studies, but after three years he joined James Watson's virology lab at the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory to learn more about cell biology. In 1974, Sharp accepted an invitation at the newly created Center for Cancer Research at MIT. In 1977, Sharp and Richard J. Roberts discovered split genes, which led to the discovery of RNA splicing for which they shared the Nobel Prize in 1993. Sharp eventually became head of the biology department and director of the Center for Cancer Research. Moreover, Sharp was instrumental in the establishment of one of the first biotech companies, Genentech, Inc and he helped establish Biogen, Inc. Sharp concludes the interview with reflections on  the significance of the neuroscience research community that currently surrounds and includes Harvard University. 

Michael D. Sheets was born in West Lafayette, Indiana. In undergrad, he did not see a clear science path, but a counselor encouraged him to get lab experience. Excited by molecular biology, he applied to the University of Wisconsin because they could provide a good general science education. There Michael worked on polyadenylation of RNA in Marvin Wickens's lab. Sheets accepted a postdoc at University of California, Berkeley, working in John Gerhart's laboratory, where he developed an antibody library for studying gene function during frog development. Today, Sheets continues his research at University of Wisconsin on regulating gene expression in vertebrate development. He works at the bench, teaches, writes grant proposals and journal articles, and ponders the applicability of his research for clinical use.

James L. Sherley was born in Memphis, Tennessee. As a child, he liked performing experiments and soon decided he wanted to be a microbiologist. Though he was high school valedictorian, the title was given to the Caucasian salutatorian instead. As the listed salutatorian, he still gave the valediction because the true salutatorian insisted. At Harvard Sherley joined Mark Ptashne's lab, where he worked on lambda phage and tumor repression. Interested in studying cancer, he joined the MD/PhD program at Johns Hopkins University, where he studied thymidine kinase in Thomas J. Kelly's lab. After a postdoc at Princeton, he became an associate member at the Fox Chase Cancer Center, where he stayed for seven years before joining the faculty of MIT.

Kevan M. Shokat was raised in Albany, California. His parents were active politically, participating in anti-war and anti-shah movements during the 1970s that culminated in the 1979 Iranian Revolution. While Shokat's high school was vocationally-minded, a guidance counselor suggested he attend Reed College. He did, majoring in chemistry. He completed his thesis with Ronald W. McClard, making inhibitors of enzymes, and doing enzyme kinetics and nucleotide metabolism. While attending grad school at University of California, Berkeley, he worked with Peter G. Schultz in biological chemistry in antibody catalysis. He later accepted a position at Princeton University and received the Pew Scholars Program award. He left Princeton for a position at the University of California, San Francisco, undertaking chemical genetic research on kinases and their substrates. 

James N. Shoolery begins his oral history interview by discussing growing up during the Depression and his early interests in chemistry. His education at University of California, Berkeley, was interrupted by World War II, during which he served in the US Navy. Shoolery decided to pursue a PhD in chemistry at the California Institute of Technology and worked under Don M. Yost on microwave spectroscopy. Shoolery wrote to Varian Associates, Inc. about the possibility of his coming to work there on applications for nuclear magnetic resonance; he spent nearly forty years working there.

Stewart H. Shuman was born in Queens, New York. His high school offered an advanced program in science; he recalls especially enjoying an exciting biology class. He also took a college-level class and attended a National Science Foundation program while in high school. He graduated summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa from Wesleyan University and completed his MD/PhD degree at Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva Unversity. He began his career at Massachusetts General Hospital, then moved to the Laboratory of Viral Diseases at the National Institutes of Health (NIH). From there he joined Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York City, where he remains today. He has published many articles about his work with capping enzyme in vaccinia virus and covalent catalysis. 

Kenneth F. Siebel begins his oral history interview with a discussion of his undergraduate studies at the University of Wisconsin. Shortly after earning his MBA Siebel formed his own investment banking firm Robertson, Coleman, and Siebel in 1969. While building it into a highly successful firm, he underwrote many now famous technology companies. The conversation then turns to Siebel's commitment to conservation and his involvement in Conservation International. It was through Conservation International that Siebel became friends with another board member, Gordon E. Moore. Finally, the interview focuses on the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, from its launch through Siebel's presentday involvement as a board member. 

Rudolf Signer starts his oral history interview by talking about his family background in Switzerland and his study of chemistry at ETH. Graduate research on polyoxymethylenes with Staudinger introduced Signer to the young field of polymer chemistry. A Rockefeller Fellowship enabled Signer to work with Svedberg at Uppsala and with Bragg at Manchester. Signer concludes with recollections of a post-war tour of the United States and of his memories of Staudinger. 

Howard E. Simmons, Jr. begins his oral history interview describing his family history. 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 a PhD. Simmons became a member of research staff in the Central Research Department (CRD) at DuPont in 1954. His early studies on structure and mechanisms led to the Simmons-Smith reaction, the first general synthesis of cyclopropanes, and a related patent. He closes with a description of his sons' DuPont careers and comments on scientific misconduct. 

In this interview, Dr. Sinfelt recalls his childhood during the Depression, his early education, and his interest in mathematics. Sinfelt describes the University of Illinois chemistry department under Roger Adams and his own studies under Harry Drickamer. Moving on to the Exxon Research and Engineering Company, Sinfelt describes how his research on catalytic reaction kinetics meshed with Exxon's increased emphasis on basic research and how this led to his discovery of bimetallic clusters and the success of the platinum-iridium catalyst. 

Michael K. Skinner won a wrestling scholarship to Warner Pacific College, but left the sport to focus on studying. His chemistry teacher, William Davis, persuaded Skinner to transfer to Reed College, where he shifted his interest from radiation chemistry to biochemistry. Skinner went to Michael Griswold’s lab at Washington State University, where he learned biochemistry techniques and picked up molecular biology. He began his life’s work in reproductive biology, working in proteins. Finishing his PhD in three years, he continued his focused approach in Irving Fritz’s lab at C.H. Best Institute at University of Toronto, learning a great deal of physiology. Skinner worked on Sertoli cells, and he found a mesenchymal conductor in testis. During his postdoc he had seven to ten publications. Skinner was recruited to Vanderbilt University’s large, excellent reproductive unit by Marie-Claire Orgebin-Crist.

Cedomir Sliepcevich begins his oral history interview with a description of his family and early years in Montana. After transferring to the University of Michigan for chemical engineering, he  received his BS, MS and PhD. While a graduate student, Sliepcevich studied thermodynamics under George Granger Brown. During World War II, he worked on a National Defense Research Council classified project and worked as a consultant for the US Army V-2 rocket test program. In 1955, he joined the faculty of the University of Oklahoma as Professor and Chairman of Chemical Engineering. Sliepcevich was instrumental in establishing the Flame Dynamics Laboratory. He founded his own firm, University Engineers, Inc., in 1963, which specialized in fire protection systems for liquid natural gas. The interview is not available in audio format. 

Emil Smith begins his oral history interview by discussing his undergraduate study of biology at Columbia University. He received a Guggenheim fellowship to Cambridge University until the outbreak of World War II. Smith accepted a position at the University of Utah and later University of California, Los Angeles. Smith describes his research interests: peptidases, immunoglobulins, cytochromes, subtilisin, histones, and glutamate dehydrogenases. 

Gioia Smith has lived in Ambler all her life. She worked in the social service department at Head Start and is active in the NAACP, the American Legion, and her church. Smith first became aware of Ambler's asbestos hazard when the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) began its cleanup of the Ambler Asbestos Area. When a proposed high-rise on the BoRit site brought the asbestos fears to the forefront again Smith worried more about displacement of the nearby poor people and about taxes. Smith laments the loss of the small-town feel of Ambler, describing all the old small businesses that are gone now. She says that the revitalization of the town is due mainly to restaurants and to outsiders. Smith continues to attend meetings of the BoRit community advisory group (CAG). 

Henry I. Smith begins his oral history interview describing his childhood in New Jersey and his early aptitude in science. After obtaining an undergraduate degree at Holy Cross, Smith earned a master's degree and PhD at Boston College. Smith established a Submicron Structures Laboratory with MIT funding. He concludes the interview by offering some insights on the semiconductor industry, and how to best develop a research culture that stimulates innovation. 

Lloyd M. Smith grew up in Berkeley, California, one of four children. His father was a physicist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and his mother a professor of mathematics. Smith attended the University of California, Berkeley; there he liked biology, chemistry and physics and chose to major in biochemistry. He worked in Wayne Hubbell's lab, studying membranes and synthetic chemistry. On Hubbell's advice he enrolled in graduate school at Stanford University, entering Harden McConnell's lab to work on diffusion in membranes, obtaining his PhD in biophysics. He accepted a postdoc with Leroy Hood at the California Institute of Technology. During months of sequencing he thought up the first fluorescence-based automated DNA sequencing instrument. Working with Michael Hunkapiller on commercialization of his technology, he became a consultant for Applied Biosystems (ABI). Smith accepted an assistant professorship at the University of Wisconsin, eventually becoming Director of the Genome Center and Chair of the Analytical Sciences Division in the Department of Chemistry. There Smith developed another laser system for sequence analysis and began the use of matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization (MALDI) on nucleic acids. He also founded his own company, Third Wave Technologies. 

Charles P. Smyth begins his oral history interview discussing his undergraduate education at Princeton and his tenure at the National Bureau of Standards and the Chemical Warfare Service during the First World War. Smyth discusses his PhD training at Harvard and his return to Princeton as an instructor. His work on dipole moment led to an important discovery about benzene ring structure that proved the Kekulé model correct. The interview ends with a discussion of Smyth's work on deuterium and the Manhattan Project. In the appendix, Scientist in a Jeep," Smyth narrates a detailed account of his work in the US, France and Germany with the ALSOS Mission. 

Martin Snider worked with Joseph Steim, a biophysical chemist interested in the functionality of membranes, while matriculating at Brown University. Encouraged by Joan Lusk, Snider entered Eugene Kennedy’s lab at Harvard University. Snider chose to do postdoctoral work at MIT where he began his research into glycoprotein synthesis in the lab of Phillips Robbins. Funding and lack of distractions at Carnegie Institution for Science allowed Snider to concentrate on new and productive research into vesicular traffic. When it was time for Snider and his wife to establish their own labs, they settled on Case Western Reserve University. Snider has continued his vesicular traffic work, but he has also returned to glycoprotein synthesis, where he says he has new tools to address old problems.

For more information on Lilianna Solnica-Krezel, please visit the Pew Scholars in the Biomedical Sciences.

Fore more information on this oral history, please contact the Director of the Center for Oral History. 

Gábor Somorjai was born in Budapest, Hungary, during World War II. He eventually matriculated in Minta Gimnázium and was accepted to the Budapest University of Technology and Economics, studying chemical engineering. When the Russian tanks rolled into Budapest, Somorjai escaped to Austria and learned about Charles Tobias at the University of California, Berkeley. He immigrated to the United States, eventually accepted at by Berkeley, working with Richard Powell. Somorjai accepted a job at International Business Machines. He built an instrument for his research into low-energy electron diffraction, and observed that catalytic reactions take place on surfaces. Somorjai is called the father of surface science. He is working on heterogenizing homogeneous catalysis to yield hybrid catalysis, and attempting to figure out how to do enzyme catalysis in a hybrid model with heterogeneous catalysis, and then working out how multiple catalysts work. He maintains that the “discovery of [his] life” is that catalytic reactions are controlled by the size and shape of nanoparticles; when two-dimensional they form a Langmuir-Blodgett film, and when three-dimensional they are useful to industry.

John Sondek grew up in Lewiston, New York. He took his first biochemistry class in high school, but his first research experience occurred during college at the University of Rochester, where he became very interested in biochemistry as a career. He attended graduate school at Johns Hopkins University with David Shortle, and then took a postdoctoral fellowship with Paul Sigler at Yale University. He found that Shortle and Sigler had different mentoring styles, both of which influenced his own. Sondek then accepted a position at University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. He discusses his obligation to provide service to his professional community and to promote the national science agenda, as well as his current research in the structural biology of signal transduction and practical applications of his work. 

Harold Sorgenti begins his oral history interview discussing his family background and childhood in New York City. He attended public school in Brooklyn and graduated City College with a BS in chemical engineering. He found a job after college at Battelle Memorial Institute, and while working received his masters in chemical engineering from Ohio State University. He joined the Atlantic Richfield Oil Corporation (ARCO), where he was quickly promoted into management. After a long career with ARCO Sorgenti undertook entrepreneurial ventures. Sorgenti ends the interview by reflecting on his philanthropic involvements and family life. 

Philippe M. Soriano grew up in New York City, with parents of French descent. Soriano's childhood trips to France persuaded him to attend the University of Paris, where he worked with DNA sequences in higher mammals in the lab of Giorgio Bernardi. His work on DNA cloning and fractionation techniques earned Soriano two doctorates, and he taught cDNA cloning in South Africa and Tunisia, a topic he uses to discuss science in Third World countries, his international perspective, and the danger of scientific inbreeding. Soriano began a postdoc in the Jaenisch lab in Hamburg, which later moved to MIT, then left for a position at Baylor College of Medicine. He discusses his future research and his plans to move to the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle. 

This interview describes Dr. Edgar W. Spanagel's life, focusing on his contributions to nylon research at the DuPont Company. Spanagel grew up in Wisconsin and attended Lawrence College. Spanagel secured a scholarship to McGill University, where he worked under Charles F. H. Allen. Spanagel, completed his PhD in 1933. He accepted a position as a DuPont Research Chemist in Wallace Carothers' polymer group. 

Jack B. St. Clair begins his oral history with a description of his childhood in Virginia and Louisiana. After Tulane University, he accepted a position as technical trainee, gas department, at Shell Oil Company's Houston, Texas refinery. Despite the lack of formal training, St. Clair readily accepted increasing responsibilities, recognizing he was being groomed for higher management After briefly serving as Houston refinery superintendent, he reluctantly moved to England as Shell International Petroleum Company, North American Division head and later the New York Head Office general manager and was quickly promoted to Shell Chemical Company president in 1967. 

Jonathan S. Stamler was born near Oxford, England. Despite barely graduating high school, his father got him into Brandeis University, where he wanted only to play tennis. After a hazing injury took him off the court, he decided to pass the time by studying. By sophomore year he was pre-med. He finished Phi Beta Kappa and was accepted to Mt. Sinai School of Medicine. He found his preceptor, Ray Matta, who inspired Stamler to study cardiology. While doing his residency at Brigham and Women's Hospital, he read about free radicals and started researching them. Eventually he came upon nitric oxide, still his area of interest. After a few fellowships, he ended up at Duke University, where he received tenure in two years. 

William S. Stavropoulos begins his oral history interview with a discussion of his family, his childhood, and education in Bridgehampton, New York. 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. In 1980, he became Commercial Vice President of Dow Latin America. In 1995, Dr. Stavropoulos was named CEO of Dow Chemical Company. Dr. Stavropoulos concludes the interview with his thoughts on winning the American Chemical Industry Medal in 2001. 

Richard Stein starts his oral history interview by reflecting on his education Brooklyn Technical High School and Brooklyn Polytechnic Institute. Stein accepted a Textile Foundation fellowship at Princeton University. Stein was appointed to an assistant professorship in the chemistry department of the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and the Polymer Research Institute. 

Leo H. Sternbach begins his oral history interview with a discussion of his family and childhood in Austria and Poland during the First World War. He enrolled in a PhD program in organic chemistry at the Swiss Federal Institute. After beginning work with Hoffmann-La Roche in Basel, increasing pressure to leave Switzerland compelled him to immigrate to the United States, where he continued work with the company in Nutley, New Jersey. Sternbach recalls that he was instructed to terminate his study of benzodiazepines but continued the research unofficially, which led to his significant discoveries of Librium, Valium, and other related drugs.