Jacques-Emile Dubois

Born: April 20, 1920 | Lille, FR
Died: April 2, 2005 | Paris, FR

Dubois describes how he studied chemistry and medicine during the German invasion of France and elucidates his active roles in the French Resistance and in post-War French politics. Next, Dubois discusses how he came to be an essential figure in the creation of the University of Saarland. He describes his work as head of IUPAC's (International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry) Committee on Machine Documentation, the creation of CEDOCAR (Centre de Documentation de l'armement), and his creation of the Bureau of Scientific Information (BIS). In conclusion, Dubois discusses the successes and failures of various information systems in France. 

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Interview Details

Interview no.: Oral History 0216
No. of pages: 31
Minutes: 93

Interview Sessions

Colin B. Burke
21 January 2001
Paris, France

Abstract of Interview

Jacques-Emile Dubois begins the interview with a discussion of his family and early education. He discusses his paternal grandfather's and father's roles in World War I and his family's influence, his father's in particular, on his education. Dubois then details his experiences during World War II. He describes how he studied chemistry and medicine during the German invasion of France and elucidates his active roles in the French Resistance and in post-War French politics. Next, Dubois discusses how he came to be an essential figure in the creation of the University of Saarland. He details the reasons he accepted a professorship at the university and eventually the directorship of the Chemistry Institute. He also discusses his work at the University of Paris, which he did in parallel. Dubois then describes his work in the French Ministry of Education. He describes, in particular, the need for change in the French education system and his efforts to bring it about. He also talks about his role in the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS) and France's underdevelopment of instrument technologies at that time. Next, Dubois discusses his involvement in the creation of the chemical information system, DARC, and his important role in the Ministry of Defense. He describes how his fast kinetics research and his work at the defense ministry gave him an interest in computers and how that interest eventually led to his work in information systems. In addition, Dubois discusses his development of a topocoder instrument and his work on various information systems, including his cooperative efforts with the Chemical Abstracts Service (CAS). He describes his work as head of IUPAC's (International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry) Committee on Machine Documentation, the creation of CEDOCAR (Centre de Documentation de l'armement), and his creation of the Bureau of Scientific Information (BIS). In conclusion, Dubois discusses the successes and failures of various information systems in France. Oral history includes an introduction by Bernice Dubois.  

Education

Year Institution Degree Discipline
1943 École Nationale Supérieure de Chimie de Lille
1944 Bureau of Liberation Committee (Isère)
1947 University of Grenoble PhD Physical sciences
1949 University College London Ramsay Fellowship
1956 Columbia University Fulbright Smith-Mund Scholar

Professional Experience

1948 to 1949
Scientific Advisor to the French Cultural Counselor, London, England

University of the Saarland

1949 to 1957
Professor of Physical Chemistry and Petrochemistry
1949 to 1957
Director of Chemistry Institute
1953 to 1957
Dean of Science Faculty
1957 to 1958
Guest Professor of Physical Chemistry

University of Paris

1957 to 1988
Professor, Chair of Physical Organic Chemistry, later Chemical Informatics

Palais de la Decouverte

1967 to 1978
Board of Directors

French Ministry of Education

1962 to 1963
Scientific Advisor to the French Minister of Education
1963 to 1965
Joint Director of Higher Education

Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique

1963 to 1975
Member Directorate

Société Chimique de France

1965 to 1968
Board Member

French Ministry of Defense

1965 to 1977
Director of Research

International CODATA Committee on Electrochemistry, Thermodynamics, and Kinetics

1966 to 1980
Member
1980 to 1988
French National Delegate, Vice-Chair, Chair, Artificial Intelligence and Graphics Task Group
1980 to 1988
Vice-President
1994 to 1998
President
2000 to 2005
President

Institut de Biologie physico-chimique

1967 to 1997
Board of Directors

International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC)

1969 to 1977
Chair, Interdivisional Committee on Machine Documentation

National Centre for Chemical Information (CNIC)

1972 to 1989
Vice President

Association for Research and Development in Chemical Informatics (ARDIC)

1972 to 1988
Founding President

French Physical Chemistry Society

1972 to 1976
Vice President; President

Curie Foundation

1977 to 1980
Co-Director

Institut de Topologie et Dynamique des Systèmes

1977 to 1988
Founding Director

French National University Agency for Scientific and Technical Documentation and Information [AUDIST]

1978 to 1981
Director

Cie. Generale d'Electricité

1979 to 1983
Scientific Director

Novelerg, Co.

1979 to 1983
Chief Executive Officer

University of la-Vallée

1993 to 2005
Vice-President, Center for Scientific Defense Studies

Honors

Year(s) Award
1946

Médaille de la Résistance, France

1948

Ancel Prize, French Chemical Society

1950

Stas Medal, Belgian Chemical Society

1953

Prix Le Bel, French Chemical Society

1954

Gold Medal, Society for the Encouragement of National Industry

1962

Commander of the Senegal Order of Merit

1962

Commander of the Order of Merit of the Ivory Coast

1965

Jecker Prize and Berthelot Medal, Academy of Sciences

1967

Commander des Palmes Académiques, France

1975

Commander of the German Order of Merit

1975

Grand Prix Technique for DARC System, City of Paris

1977

Commandeur de l'Ordre National du Mérite, France

1982

Bruylants Chair, Louvain University, Belgium

1986

Grand Prix of Graphic Animation du Festival d'Angers, Angers, France

1989

Commandeur de la Légion d'Honneur, France

1989

Dr. Honoris Causa, University of Regensburg, Germany

1991

CAOC (Correlation Analysis in Organic Chemistry) Medal, Paris

1992

Herman Skolnik Award for Chemical Information, American Chemical Society

Table of Contents

Family History, Education, and World War II
1

Description of father's World War I experiences. Influence of family on education. Effect of World War II on education. Working to earn PhD. As a member of the French Resistance. Work in post-War French politics. Doing research in London.

The Ministry of Education
7

Being offered a professorship to the University of the Saarland by Pierre Donzelot. Thoughts on teaching in German territory after the War. Becoming director of the Chemistry Institute and dean of science faculty. Becoming scientific advisor to Minister of Education. Working to change the French education system.

Computers and Information Systems
12

Fast kinetics research. Working at the defense ministry. Early interest in computers. Studying hindered compounds and developing the chemistry information system DARC. Developing a topocoder and its limitations. Working with CAS and IUPAC on the Committee on Machine Documentation.

Work Within the DRME
17

Creating the CEDOCAR. Working with the CODATA. Working with CAS to create applied databases in chemistry. Teaching the difference between information and informatics. Academic resistance to information scientists. The creation of AUDIST. As scientific director of the CGE.

Conclusion
22

Attempts to advance the French library system. Creating EURECAS and linking it to CAS. Sending images and information through CODATA to the CODATA Conference in Kyoto, Japan. The successes and failures of various information systems in France.

Notes
27
Index
28

About the Interviewer

Colin B. Burke

Colin B. Burke had recently retired from the history department at the University of Maryland at Baltimore County and held a research fellowship at Yale University when he came to CHF. He spent his residency working on his book on the history of computer-based scientific information systems and related government policies, from the 1950s through the early 1990s. He received his PhD from Washington University in St. Louis and currently serves as associate professor emeritus at the University of Maryland. He also served as a Fulbright Scholar in Poland and as a scholar-in-residence at the National Security Agency.