The information listed below is current as of the date the transcript was finalized.
Abstract of Interview
Vladimir Haensel begins this interview by discussing his family life. Haensel, though born in Germany, spent parts of his childhood in Russia, Austria, and Germany. He attended a German gymnasium, where he had only a few science courses. However, family friends encouraged his burgeoning interest in chemistry. When his father was offered a faculty position at Northwestern University, Haensel's family moved to the United States. Haensel studied engineering at Northwestern, receiving his BS in 1935. He earned a scholarship for graduate school at MIT, where he studied polymerization under Edwin R. Gilliland. With the help of a family friend, Vladimir Ipatieff, Haensel was offered a summer position at Universal Oil Products (UOP). After earning his MS in chemical engineering in 1937, Haensel took a permanent position at UOP, and helped Ipatieff to set up a high-pressure laboratory (funded by UOP) at Northwestern. During this time, Haensel also earned his PhD in chemistry from Northwestern, writing a thesis on the decomposition of cyclohexane. In the 1940s and 1950s, Haensel moved into research management. He was also integral in UOP's development of the Platforming process. Haensel concludes this interview with a discussion of the importance of instinct in research, the future of research and development, and his thoughts on winning the Perkin Medal.
|1935||Northwestern University||BS||General Engineering|
|1939||Massachusetts Institute of Technology||MS||Chemical Engineering|
Universal Oil Products Company
Ipatieff High Pressure Laboratory
Petroleum Administration of War
University of Massachusetts
Chicago Junior Chamber of Commerce Award
Precision Scientific Company Award in Petroleum Chemistry
Professional Progress Award, American Institute of Chemical Engineers
Modern Pioneers in Creative Industry Award, National Association of Manufacturers
Chemical Pioneer Award, American Institute of Chemists
Perkin Medal, Society of Chemical Industry (American Section)
Member, National Academy of Sciences
National Medal of Science
Member, National Academy of Engineering
Eugene J. Houdry Award in Applied Catalysis
Chancellor's Medal, University of Massachusetts
Award for Chemistry in Service to Society, National Academy of Sciences
Henry J. Albert Award, International Precious Metal Institute
Chancellor's Outstanding Teacher Award, University of Massachusetts
Charles Stark Draper Prize, National Academy of Engineering
Table of Contents
Growing up in Russia, Germany, Austria, and the United States. Effect of World War I. Growing interest in chemistry due to family friends.
Engineering at Northwestern University. Graduate school at MIT. Studying polymerization with Edwin R. Gilliland. Summer job at Universal Oil Products. Influence of Vladimir Ipatieff.
Working for Ipatieff. Setting up high-pressure laboratory at Northwestern. Ph.D. thesis on decomposition of cyclohexane. Development of the Platforming process.
Importance of instinct. Experiences in research management. Corporate support for R&D. Cooperation between chemists and chemical engineers. Importance of reading. Future of R&D.
Thoughts on winning the Perkin Medal.
About the Interviewer
James J. Bohning was professor emeritus of chemistry at Wilkes University, where he had been a faculty member from 1959 to 1990. He served there as chemistry department chair from 1970 to 1986 and environmental science department chair from 1987 to 1990. Bohning was chair of the American Chemical Society’s Division of the History of Chemistry in 1986; he received the division’s Outstanding Paper Award in 1989 and presented more than forty papers at national meetings of the society. Bohning was on the advisory committee of the society’s National Historic Chemical Landmarks Program from its inception in 1992 through 2001 and is currently a consultant to the committee. He developed the oral history program of the Chemical Heritage Foundation, and he was CHF’s director of oral history from 1990 to 1995. From 1995 to 1998, Bohning was a science writer for the News Service group of the American Chemical Society. In May 2005, he received the Joseph Priestley Service Award from the Susquehanna Valley Section of the American Chemical Society. Bohning passed away in September 2011.