The information listed below is current as of the date the transcript was finalized.
Abstract of Interview
The interview begins with Dr. Marinus Los' description of his family's origins in The Netherlands. When he was two years old, his family moved to England, where he received his early education during World War II. Encouraged by his older brother, Los studied chemistry at Edinburgh University, where he first became interested in biochemistry. He conducted his PhD research on heterocyclic analogs of azulene under W. H. Stafford. Stafford encouraged Los to study at the National Research Council in Canada. There, he conducted research in the structural chemistry of alkaloids and plants under Leo E. Marion. In 1960, Los became a research chemist at Lederle Laboratories, now a division of the American Cyanamid Company. Under Milon E. Bullock, he conducted early research on insect control via an insect molting hormone discovered by Dr. Peter Karlson. Los also worked on a synthetic steroid project involving anabolic steroids and artificial insemination for cows. He briefly returned to Edinburgh University's Department of Pharmacology to organize a research program in prostaglandins. On returning to American Cyanamid, led at the time by George J. Sella, Jr. , Los switched to research on herbicides. In his research on plant growth regulators (PGRs), Los's work on imidazolinones led to the herbicides Assert, Arsenal and Pursuit. This work won him the National Medal of Technology. Los ends the interview by discussing his later career as first Senior Group Leader and then Research Director, focusing on his approach to the encouragement of teamwork at American Cyanamid.
|1955||University of Edinburgh||BSc||Chemistry|
|1957||University of Edinburgh||PhD||Organic Chemistry|
National Research Council Canada
University of Edinburgh
American Cyanamid Company
Boots Drummond Prize in Biochemistry, Edinburgh University
Blandfield Prize in Chemistry, Edinburgh University
Cyanamid Scientific Achievement Award, American Cyanamid Company
Cyanamid President's Award for Excellence in Agriculture, American Cyanamid Company
Distinguished Inventor, Intellectual Property Owners, Inc.
Thomas Alva Edison Patent Award, New Jersey Research & Development Council
National Medal of Technology
Achievement Award, Industrial Research Institute
Perkin Medal, Society of Chemical Industry (American Section)
Award for Creative Invention, American Chemical Society
Table of Contents
Family origins in The Netherlands. Immigration to England. Early education during World War II. Influence of older brother. Introduction to science in high school.
Studies in chemistry at Edinburgh University. Burgeoning interest in biochemistry. Projected reunion of graduating class in honors chemistry. First paper with Gerald O. Aspinall on carbohydrate chemistry in plants. Influence of Edmond L. Hirst.
Focus on heterocyclic chemistry. Ph.D. work with W. H. Stafford on heterocyclic analogs of azulene. Research on hydrazine. Award from Industrial Research Institute. Importance of anomalies in research.
Research in structural chemistry. Leadership of Leo E. Marion. Papers with Marion and O. E. Edwards on structures derived from alkaloids and plants. Research on the structure of hydroxylycoctonine.
Decision to pursue career in industrial science. Interactions with Milon W. Bullock. Early research on insect molting hormone. Development of synthetic anabolic steroids and artificial insemination of cows. Attitude towards publication at Lederle.
Move to Edinburgh University. Start of research program in prostaglandins. Reasons for return to industry.
Research on plant growth regulators (PGRs) and phthalimides. Development of imidazolinones, leading to Avenge. Random screening approach for new herbicides. Discovery of cyclohexyl derivative of phthalimides, leading to Assert, Arsenal, and Pursuit. Joint project with Molecular Genetics. Organizational expansion.
Promotion to Senior Group Leader. Cyanamid's support of research and development. Influence of George J. Sella, Jr. Views on teamwork and managing creative people. Award of the National Medal of Technology.
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.