Stephanie L. Kwolek
The information listed below is current as of the date the transcript was finalized.
Abstract of Interview
Stephanie Kwolek starts this interview by describing her family background. Her father's early death meant that her mother had to work to support Kwolek and her brother, who later became a chemical engineer. At the Carnegie Institute of Technology, Kwolek shifted her interests from medicine to chemistry. Deciding to enter industry, she accepted a position with the Rayon Department of DuPont at Buffalo. There, she started her career in polymer synthesis and worked with Izard, Wittbecker, and Morgan. When the laboratory moved to Wilmington, Kwolek was associated with the low -temperature polymerization program. In the interview, Kwolek then discusses the nylon rope trick, DuPont promotion policy, and liquid crystalline polymers. She concludes with her reflections on colleagues and DuPont consultants.
|1946||Carnegie Mellon University||BS||Chemistry|
E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Co.
National Academy of Sciences
Publication Award, Delaware Section, American Chemical Society
Howard N. Potts Medal, Franklin Institute of Philadelphia
Award for Contributions to Kevlar (du Pont trademark for aramid fiber) American Society for Metals
Chemical Pioneer Award, American Institute of Chemists
Award for Creative Invention, American Chemical Society
Honorary Doctor of Science degree, Worcester Polytechnic Institute
Alumni Association Merit Award, Carnegie-Mellon University
Engineering/Technology Award, Society of Plastics Engineers
Polymer Processing Hall of Fame, University of Akron
Harold DeWitt Smith Memorial Award, American Society of Testing Materials
du Pont Honoree at the Bicentennial Celebration of the United States Patent and Copyright Laws
Inducted member of the Inventor's Hall of Fame
Perkin Medal, Society of Chemical Industry (American Section)
Table of Contents
Parents and early death of father, mother forced to support Kwolek and her brother. Schooling in New Kensington, Pennsylvania.
Women's college of Carnegie Institute of Technology. Change of interest from medicine to chemistry.
Decision to take post at DuPont Rayon laboratories. Polymer synthesis with Izard and Wittbecker. Collaboration with Paul Morgan. Social life; salary.
Reactions to move to Pioneering Research Laboratory. Low-temperature polycondensation; the nylon rope trick. Promotion within DuPont research organization. Liquid crystalline polymers. Colleagues at Wilmington.
Patent litigation. Polyazomethines. Academic consultants, Flory and Mark.
About the Interviewer
Raymond C. Ferguson obtained his degrees in chemistry from Iowa State University (BS, MS) and Harvard University (PhD). He worked in research divisions of the Organic Chemicals, Elastomer Chemicals, and Central Research Departments of DuPont, principally in molecular spectroscopy, organic structure analysis, and polymer characterization. Currently he is affiliated with CONDUX, Inc., a consulting association of former DuPont professionals.