Raymond E. March
The information listed below is current as of the date the transcript was finalized.
Abstract of Interview
Raymond March was born in Newcastle upon Tyne, England, one of two children. His father was an electrician and his mother a shop worker. March’s childhood was shaped by World War II, and by a mysterious polio-like paralysis which caused him to miss a great deal of school. He took an apprenticeship with PAMETRADA (Parsons and Marine Engineering Turbine Research and Development Association) Research Station, where he learned his way around a lab. He continued to attend school part time, and he passed his exams, gaining admittance to University of Leeds. There he majored in chemistry and was in the University Air Squadron, learning to fly de Havilland Chipmunks. He was intrigued by a visit from John Polanyi, but it was the change in national service requirements from two to three years (if one wished to fly) that provided the impetus to accept a scholarship to the University of Toronto, where he worked on flash photolysis with Polanyi. He returned briefly to England to marry; his wife became a teacher in Canada.
March developed a needle loop technique at Johnson and Johnson, then ran into Frederick Dainton with Polanyi and Harold Schiff at McGill University. He took a postdoc position in Schiff’s lab at McGill, where he worked on methyl metals and microwave discharges; on atmospheric chemistry; and on aluminum trimethyl and impact work for Gerald Bull, who built the supergun. Attempts by the Front de Libération du Québec (FLQ) to secede from Canada caused March to accept an assistant professorship at the brand-new Trent University in Peterborough, Ontario. On a sabbatical in France March learned mass spectrometry and ion traps from Jean Durup and has continued to specialize in quadrupole mass spectrometers and to refine ion traps.
Becoming interested in flavonoids, March established the Trent University Water Quality Centre and added an interest in antibiotics. He talks about insect-induced metabolite changes and surfactants in blood; he developed an analysis of furans, PCBs, and dioxins for Varian Medical Systems; and he is collaborating on the problem of proteins and drugs and competition on proteins between drugs and contaminant molecules.
March discusses his contributions to the establishment of Trent University and his pride in Trent’s progress; his role on the editorial board of the International Journal of Mass Spectrometry; and his ongoing argument with Joseph Loo, editor of Journal of the American Society for Mass Spectrometry (ASMS). He also talks about his many friends and colleagues; his trips to Europe; funding; and his patents. March considers his most important publications to be his works on high mass resolution; on collisional migration, written with Durup and Ronald Bonner; and on competitive binding for drug molecules and contaminant molecules. He concludes with an encomium of the quadrupole ion trap mass spectrometer on the Rosetta mission to characterize a comet.
|1957||University of Leeds||BSc||Chemistry|
|1961||University of Toronto||PhD||Chemistry|
PAMETRADA Research Station
University of Leeds
Royal Canadian Air Force Auxiliary
Canadian Industries Ltd. (CIL)
Johnson and Johnson
University of Kent
University of Waterloo
Whitley Bay Grammar School, School Certificate Prize in Mathematics
Fellow of the Chemical Institute of Canada (FCIC)
“Recognition Award”, Canadian Mass Spectrometry Society
Distinguished Faculty Research Award, Trent University
“Distinguished Contribution Award,” Canadian Mass Spectrometry Society
DSc from Leeds University
Docteur (honoris causa), Université d’Aix-Marseille
Gerhard Herzberg Award, Canadian Society for Analytical Sciences and Spectroscopy
Table of Contents
Growing up in Newcastle upon Tyne, England. Learning Morse code from uncle. Experiences during World War II: blackouts; shortages and rationing; bomb shelters. National exam; grammar school. Boy Scouts, entertainments. Paralysis resembling polio, recovery. Apprenticeship as lab worker at PAMETRADA Research Station.
Exams; University of Leeds. Scouts, trips to France. Krupp Works in Germany. Learning to fly Chipmunks in University Air Squadron at Leeds. Visit from John Polanyi. National Service requirements increased; scholarship at University of Toronto. Flash photolysis work with Polanyi. Polanyi Nobel Prize winner later. Marriage; wife’s career as teacher. Frederick Dainton and other renowned scientists at Leeds.
Johnson & Johnson; needle loop technique. Postdoc position at McGill in Schiff’s lab. Methyl metals and microwave discharges; atmospheric chemistry. Aluminum trimethyl for Schiff and Gerald Bull. James Pitts and Barbara Finlayson and smog work. John Goodings. Sailing club. Front de Libération du Québec and kidnap-murder of MPP Pierre Laporte. Danger from terrorist attacks; cessation of funding to McGill; declining economy.
Assistant professorship at new Trent University. Establishing university, hiring faculty. Sharing laboratories with physics department. Effects of Sputnik. Competition among schools for funding. Editorial board of International Journal of Mass Spectrometry. Ongoing argument with Joseph Loo, editor of Journal of the American Society for Mass Spectrometry (ASMS). Letter to Qiang Ma, explaining March’s comments on Ma’s paper. Aston’s mass spectrometer from British Science Museum. Improving ASMS meetings. Seven books with John Todd on ion traps. John Sykes and commercialization of ion traps; Jennifer Brodbelt’s contributions.
Teaching experience. Composition, setup, philosophy and growth of university. Discussion of students, faculty, funding, Senate, union. Work on excited species in atmosphere. Sabbatical with Jean Durup in Orsay, France, learning mass spectrometry and ion traps. Frederick Lossing, John Holmes, Alexander Harrison, Robert Boyd. Quadrupole ion trap and electronics. QUISTOR and mass separation. John Fulford and Mississauga train derailment. SCIEX, collaboration with Ronald Bonner. Frank Field and Brian Chait.
Establishing Trent University Water Quality Centre. Flavonoids. SYNAPT. Time-of-flight and electrospray. John Fenn. From flavonoids to antibiotics. Insect-induced metabolite changes. Surfactants in blood. Perfluorooctanoic sulfonic acid (PFOS) ban in Canada and United States. Analysis of furans, PCBs, dioxins for Varian Medical Systems. Centre’s funding and equipment: orbitrap, three MALDIs, and an ICR (ion cyclotron resonance).
Book for graduate students, with John Todd and Richard Hughes. CRC Press and editorial difficulties. Conference on ion traps with Jochen Franzen and Jean-Claude Tabet at La Benerie. George Stafford and John Syka and the commercialization of quadrupole ion traps. Mechanics of joint editing. Pitts’ and Finlayson’s book, Atmospheric Chemistry. Collaboration with Jacques André, Fernande Vedel at Université de Provence.
Being an examiner in France. Trips to France. Collaborating on competition on proteins between drugs and contaminant molecules. Patents. Jennifer Brodbelt’s contributions. Funding from NSERC and CFI. Most important publications: work on high mass resolution; collisional migration with Durup and Bonner; competition for accommodation. Trent University’s quadrupole ion trap mass spectrometer on board Rosetta Mission to Characterize a Comet.
About the Interviewer
Michael A. Grayson is a member of the Mass Spectrometry Research Resource at Washington University in St. Louis. He received his BS degree in physics from St. Louis University in 1963 and his MS in physics from the University of Missouri at Rolla in 1965. He is the author of over 45 papers in the scientific literature. Before joining the Research Resource, he was a staff scientist at McDonnell Douglas Research Laboratory. While completing his undergraduate and graduate education, he worked at Monsanto Company in St. Louis, where he learned the art and science of mass spectrometry. Grayson is a member of the American Society for Mass Spectrometry (ASMS), and has served many different positions within that organization. He has served on the Board of Trustees of CHF and is currently a member of CHF's Heritage Council. He currently pursues his interest in the history of mass spectrometry by recording oral histories, assisting in the collection of papers, and researching the early history of the field.