Browse Oral Histories Alphabetically

Leslie L. Vadasz begins by describing his childhood in Budapest during World War II. He began an undergraduate mechanical engineering program before continuing in solid state physics at McGill University. Vadasz joined Fairchild Semiconductor, where he helped develop the silicon gate process; later, at Intel Corporation he researched erasable programmable read-only memory. Vadasz recounts his role as general manager of the microcomputer components division and its interactions with the semiconductor industry. Vadasz concludes the interview with remarks on the importance of technical knowledge in both developmental and managerial work.

Mark D. Van Doren became interested in biology during high school science classes; before college, he undertook summer research at Roswell Park Cancer Institute in Buffalo. At Cornell, Van Doren worked with Efraim Racker who exposed him to the complexities of scientific practice, including research ethics and the need for experimental replication and validation. He published in a scientific journal, an experience that helped him decide upon laboratory science as his career. He then worked at Oncogene Science prior to starting graduate work at University of California, San Diego. There, Van Doren developed an interest in Drosophila and decided to pursue research on the biochemistry of Drosophila BHLH proteins, resulting in a 1991 Development paper. He is now at Johns Hopkins University, where he continues his Drosophila research.

For more information on Wesley Van Voorhis, 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. 

Edwin J. Vandenberg begins his oral history discussing his early interests in science and the decision to focus on chemistry at Stevens Institute of Technology. He began his career at Hercules working on paper chemistry, where he contributed to the understanding of paper sizing as a colloid phenomenon. After working on World War II production of smokeless powder, Vandenberg returned to the Hercules research, working on a wide range of polymer syntheses. The interview concludes with an account of his retirement activities at Arizona State University, and reflections on his family, colleagues and ACS activities.

Inder Verma begins by discussing how he came to leave the Weizmann Institute of Science and join David Baltimore's laboratory at MIT . Verma discusses his early research on reverse transcriptase and RNA, establishing himself with his co-workers, and his impressions of Baltimore. Verma provides an alternate view to some of the political turmoil that Charles N. Cole discusses in his interview because as a foreign student, Verma had a different opinion of the Vietnam War and the anti-war demonstrations. Verma concludes his interview with some thoughts about his research and its impact on cancer research. Joint interview with Charles N. Cole.

Marvin L. Vestal earned bachelor's and master's degrees in Engineering Sciences from Purdue University, taking a break after two years to volunteer for the draft; he finished his undergraduate degree and master's degree on the GI Bill. During college he worked part time at Johnston Laboratories, where he met Henry Rosenstock and Merrill Wallenstein. Vestal worked on the coincidence time-of-flight (TOF) project and also improved the machine with his invention of an electron multiplier. He founded Scientific Research Instrument Corporation (SRIC), with Gordon Fergusson, William Johnston (of Johnston Labs), and Bob Jones. The company licensed the new process chemical ionization (CI) from its inventors, Burnaby Munson and Frank Field. Vestal decided to pursue a PhD in chemical physics at the University of Utah, studying under Wahrhaftig and Futrell. He built a triple quadrupole MS for photodissociation; with Calvin Blakely he built a crossbeam MS for his dissertation. Vestal accepted a position at the University of Houston, where he stayed for eleven years. During those years he invented and patented thermospray and started another company, Vestec to commercialize MALDI/TOF instruments; the company did so well he left the University to work at Vestec. Vestec's merger with PerSeptive, led by Noubar Afeyan, eventually led to the merger with Applied Biosystems. After retiring for a short while, Vestal founded Virgin Instruments.

Monica L. Vetter grew up in Markham, Canada, and attended McGill University. Her interest in science led to several summers spent in various academic labs working on muscle contraction, motor cortex and motor control in primates, and neural control of eye movements. She attended University of California, San Francisco, for graduate school, researching molecular genetics and signaling pathways in neuronal cells. She remained there for a postdoc in Yuh Nung Jan's laboratory, focusing on ath5 transcription factor and the regulation of the initial events in vertebrate retinal neural development. Finally, she accepted a faculty appointment at University of Utah. Vetter talks about the biomedical revolution, her decision to pursue academic research, patents, history of science, and the role of scientists in scientific public policy and literacy.

Ernest Volwiler begins his oral history interview discussing his early years in Ohio, college at Miami University, and his early interests in chemistry. He attended the University of Illinois for his PhD, where he worked with Roger Adams. His long career with Abbott Laboratories started in organic synthesis, including some plant production responsibilities. After World War II, Volwiler was a member of the pharmaceutics investigating team sent to Germany. Post-war advancement led Volwiler to the presidency of Abbott Laboratories, and he discusses how he trimmed the production line and initiated development into new areas. His ACS activities culminated in his election as Society President in 1950.

James R. Von Ehr became interested in electronics when he was given vacuum tubes, a homemade Heathkit ham radio, and electronics magazines as a child. While studying computer science at Michigan State University, he helped hack into MSU's computer system with a group that named themselves the alternative systems programming group.  Von Ehr was caught, but memorialized the experience in the name of his first company, Altsys Corporation. After college, he first worked for Texas Instruments, then started his own company, and developed games, utilities, fonts, and other programs for Macintosh. Later in his career, he became fascinated by nanotechnology, eventually founding the Texas Nanotechnology Initiative. Von Ehr meditates on the interface between computers and nano, the inevitability of progress, and the value of competition. 

Henrique P. von Gersdorff was born in Brazil, but his father worked for the United Nations, so his family moved several times. He liked mathematics and resolved early to be a theoretical physicist. He also liked taking things apart to see how they worked. Von Gersdorff matriculated into the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, then pursued a master's degree in theoretical physics at Centro Brasileiro de Pesquisas Fisicas. Though he first received a PhD in physics, he soon found himself intrigued by the brain's workings. He entered Gary Matthews's neurophysiology laboratory at Stony Brook and earned a PhD in neurobiology. Von Gersdorff accepted an offer from the Vollum Institute in Portland, Oregon. He discusses the setting-up of his lab, funding, collaboration, and the workings of Oregon Health & Science University.