David R. Bryant
The information listed below is current as of the date the transcript was finalized.
Abstract of Interview
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.
|1958||Wake Forest University||BS||Chemistry and Mathematics|
|1961||Duke University||PhD||Organic Chemistry|
Union Carbide Corporation
Chemical Pioneer Award, American Institute of Chemists
Honorary DSc, Wake Forest University
Industrial Chemistry Award, American Chemical Society
Perkin Medal, Society of Chemical Industry (American Section)
Table of Contents
Growing up in North Carolina. Siblings. Working at age ten. Influence of Arnold Bolen. Decision to pursue chemistry.
Scholarship to Wake Forest University. Double major in chemistry and math. Working as a lab assistant. Research without advanced instrumentation. Graduate school in organic chemistry at Duke University. National Science Foundation fellowship. Minor in physics. Dianion research.
Recruitment. Decision to take job at Union Carbide. Assigned projects. Work on vinyl acetate process. Research on rhodium. Acrylic acid work. Selection as technical witness in lawsuit. Participation in intellectual property disputes.
Importance to Union Carbide. Presentation of technology. Rhodium triphenylphosphine catalyst. Propylene hydroformylation. Phosphite chemistry.
Fundamental research in an industrial setting. Importance of continuing education. Strategies in experimentation. Scientific innovation. Emphasis on teamwork. Difficulties of regulation.
Retirement in 2000. Winning the Perkin Medal. Family.
About the Interviewer
James G. Traynham is a professor of chemistry at Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge. He holds a PhD in organic chemistry from Northwestern University. He joined Louisiana State University in 1953 and served as chemistry department chairperson from 1968 to 1973. He was chairman of the American Chemical Society’s Division of the History of Chemistry in 1988 and is currently councilor of the Baton Rouge section of the American Chemical Society. He was a member of the American Chemical Society’s Joint-Board Council on Chemistry and Public Affairs, as well as a member of the Society’s Committees on Science, Chemical Education, and Organic Chemistry Nomenclature. He has written over 90 publications, including a book on organic nomenclature and a book on the history of organic chemistry.