Norman Hackerman

Born: March 2, 1912 | Baltimore, MD, US
Died: June 16, 2007 | Temple, TX, US
Photograph of Norman Hackerman

CHF Collections, Photograph by Douglas A. Lockard

After graduating from Johns Hopkins with a PhD in chemistry, Norman Hackerman became a steady participant of the Gordon Research Conferences [GRC]-particularly the Corrosion Conference, which he chaired in 1950. Hackerman recalls that the early conferences were helpful to his scientific research, and that the atmosphere was informal and interactive. He also explains that as the numbers of attendees, disciplines, and locations of the conferences increased, the conference atmosphere became a more formal, lecture-type setting. Hackerman discusses some of the activities of the GRC board of trustees, on which he served as a member from 1970 to 1973.

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Interview Details

Interview no.: Oral History 0237
No. of pages: 32
Minutes: 141

Interview Sessions

Arnold Thackray and Arthur Daemmrich
12 March 2002
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Abstract of Interview

Norman Hackerman begins the interview with a description of his graduate education at Johns Hopkins University and his encounters with Neil E. Gordon. After graduating from Johns Hopkins with a PhD in chemistry, Hackerman became a steady participant of the Gordon Research Conferences (GRC)—particularly the Corrosion Conference, which he chaired in 1950. Hackerman recalls that the early conferences were helpful to his scientific research, and that the atmosphere was informal and interactive. He also explains that as the numbers of attendees, disciplines, and locations of the conferences increased, the conference atmosphere became a more formal, lecture-type setting. Hackerman discusses some of the activities of the GRC board of trustees, on which he served as a member from 1970 to 1973. From attendee to conference chairman to trustee, Hackerman watched GRC evolve into an international organization that brings together thousands of individuals from academe, government, and industry. Hackerman concludes the interview by commenting on the important role that GRC plays in public education and public understanding of science.

Education

Year Institution Degree Discipline
1932 Johns Hopkins University AB Chemistry
1935 Johns Hopkins University PhD Chemistry

Professional Experience

Loyola College

1935 to 1939
Assistant Professor of Chemistry

Colloid Corporation

1936 to 1940
Research Chemist

US Coast Guard

1939 to 1941
Assistant Chemist

Virginia Polytechnic Institute

1941 to 1943
Assistant Professor of Chemistry

Kellex Corporation

1944 to 1945
Research Chemist

University of Texas at Austin

1945 to 1946
Assistant Professor of Chemistry
1946 to 1950
Associate Professor of Chemistry
1948 to 1961
Director, Corrosion Research Laboratory
1950 to 1970
Professor of Chemistry
1952 to 1961
Chairman, Chemistry Department
1960 to 1961
Dean of Research and Sponsored Programs
1961 to 1963
Vice President and Provost
1963 to 1967
Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs
1967 to 1970
President
1985
Professor Emeritus of Chemistry

Rice University

1970 to 1985
President
1970 to 1985
Professor of Chemistry
1985
President Emeritus
1985
Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Chemistry

The Robert A. Welch Foundation

1982
Chairman, Scientific Advisory Board

Honors

Year(s) Award
1956

Whitney Award, National Association of Corrosion Engineers

1964

Joseph L. Mattiello Award

1965

Palladium Medal, The Electrochemical Society

1965

Southwest Regional Award, American Chemical Society

1972

LLD, St. Edwards University

1975

DSc, Austin College

1975

Honor Scroll, Texas Institute of Chemists

1978

DSc, Texas Christian University

1978

LLD, Abilene Christian University

1978

Gold Medal, American Institute of Chemists

1981

Mirabeau B. Lamar Award, Association of Texas Colleges and Universities

1982

Distinguished Alumnus Award, Johns Hopkins University

1984

Edward Goodrich Acheson Award, The Electrochemical Society

1984

Alumni Gold Medal for Distinguished Service, Rice University

1987

Charles Lathrop Parsons Award

1987

Philip Hauge Abelson Prize, American Association for the Advancement of Science

1993

Vannevar Bush Award, National Science Board

1993

Doctor of Public Service, University of North Texas

1993

National Medal of Science

1999

Texas Distinguished Scientist Award, Texas Academy of Science

Table of Contents

Reflections on Neil E. Gordon
1

Johns Hopkins University. Early days of the Gordon Research Conferences [GRC].
Neil E. Gordon. Samuel C. Hooker Scientific Laboratory. GRC funding.

Gordon Research Conferences
4

Gibson Island Conferences. Herbert H. Uhlig. Acting as chair of the 1950
Corrosion Conference. Conference structure. Evolution of the Conferences. Joining
the GRC Board of Trustees. George W. Parks. Alexander M. Cruikshank.
Changing role of industrial involvement. The academic and industrial stream.
Participant changes. Carlyle B. Storm. Financial issues. Creation of “breakout
sessions.” The importance of the Conferences. The effect of the World Wide Web
on the GRC. Alexander M. Cruikshank. GRC tradition. Start of Conferences in
California. Linus Pauling. Alan H. Cowley and chemical education. GRC 50 Years
in New Hampshire. Start of European Conferences.

Conclusion
27

GRC’s roll in public education and public understanding of science. The Robert A. Welch Foundation. Alan H. Cowley.

Index
30

About the Interviewer

Arthur Daemmrich

Arthur Daemmrich is an assistant professor in the Business, Government, and International Economy Unit at Harvard Business School and a senior research fellow at the Chemical Heritage Foundation. His research examines science, medicine, and the state, with a focus on advancing theories of risk and regulation through empirical research on the pharmaceutical, biotechnology, and chemical sectors. At HBS he also plays an active role in an interdisciplinary Healthcare Initiative, advancing scholarship and developing applied lessons for the business of creating and delivering health services and health-related technologies. Daemmrich was previously the director of the Center for Contemporary History and Policy at the Chemical Heritage Foundation. He earned a PhD in Science and Technology Studies from Cornell University in 2002 and has held fellowships at the Social Science Research Council/Berlin Program for Advanced German and European Studies, the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, and the Chemical Heritage Foundation. He has published widely on pharmaceutical and chemical regulation, biotechnology business and policy, innovation, and history of science.

Arnold Thackray

Arnold Thackray founded the Chemical Heritage Foundation and served the organization as president for 25 years. He is currently CHF’s chancellor. Thackray received MA and PhD degrees in history of science from Cambridge University. He has held appointments at Cambridge, Oxford University, and Harvard University, the Institute for Advanced Study, the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences, and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

In 1983 Thackray received the Dexter Award from the American Chemical Society for outstanding contributions to the history of chemistry. He served for more than a quarter century on the faculty of the University of Pennsylvania, where he was the founding chairman of the Department of History and Sociology of Science and is currently the Joseph Priestley Professor Emeritus.