Carl S. Marvel
The information listed below is current as of the date the transcript was finalized.
Abstract of Interview
In this interview, Carl Marvel speaks about his life and career as a chemist. He begins by recalling his youth on a farm and his early education. Considerations of his undergraduate days at Illinois Wesleyan College and of his graduate studies at the University of Illinois follow. Marvel then describes his first teaching job at Illinois, his colleagues, and the operation of the chemistry department. In the central portion of the interview, Marvel provides extended discussion of his consulting work for DuPont, his direction of the federal government's program on synthetic rubber during World War II, and his research on anti-malarial and chemical warfare agents. He then talks about his postwar research in polymer chemistry. Marvel concludes with an appraisal of his contributions to chemistry and remarks about his family, hobbies, and involvement with the American Chemical Society.
|1915||Illinois Wesleyan University||AB and MS||Chemistry|
|1916||University of Illinois at Chicago||MA||Chemistry|
|1920||University of Illinois at Chicago||PhD||Chemistry|
E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Co.
US Rubber Reserve Corporation
National Research Council
National Advisory Health Council
National Science Foundation
University of Illinois at Chicago
University of Arizona
Elected to of National Academy of Sciences
Nichols Medal, American Chemical Society
President, American Chemical Society
Honorary DSc degree, Illinois Wesleyan University
Willard Gibbs Medal, American Chemical Society
Gold Medal Award, American Institute of Chemists
Joseph Priestley Medal, American Chemical Society
Honorary DSc degree, University of Illinois
International Award, Society of Plastics Engineers
Perkin Medal, Society of Chemical Industry
Chemical Pioneer Award, American Institute of Chemistry
Dr. honoris causa, University of Louvain
Table of Contents
Life in Waynesville, Illinios. Parents' influence. Schooling at a private academy. Family's financial situation.
Atmosphere at a small school. Science courses. Decision to attend graduate school. Influential professors. Research on turbidity of beer. Completion of master's degree. State of chemistry during World War I.
Synthesis work. Manufacture of chemical compounds. Production of octane. Coursework and textbooks. Bacteriology work. Faculty members and graduate students. Atmosphere in Illinois' Department of Chemistry. Departmental seminars. Influence of Karl Ziegler's work. Polymer research.
First teaching job. Industrial orientation of chemistry. Kharasch and the University of Chicago. Several job offers. Duties as an instructor. Illinois during the 1920s. Robert Woodward. Colleagues. E. P. Kohler. Graduate students. How Illinois' chemistry department interacted with other chemistry departments. Research conditions and funding.
Retained by Du Pont. Work with different divisions within Du Pont. Polymer chemistry. Chemists active in the 1930s. Changes in consulting work. Growth of biochemistry. The development of physical organic chemistry.
The National Defense Research Committee. Research on chemical warfare agents. Establishment of synthetic rubber program at Illinois. Chemists involved in rubber research. The One Essential Ingredient (OEI) in synthetic rubber. Malaria research. Draft deferments. Postwar inspection of German synthetic rubber research.
Position on National Science Foundation review board. Polymer research for air force. Research on polybenzimidazole. Development of polymer chemistry. Faculty members at Illinois. Position at the University of Arizona.
Important contributions to chemistry. Bird watching. Work with the American Chemical Society. Professional awards. Prospects for chemistry today. Discussion about family members.
About the Interviewer
Leon Gortler is a professor of chemistry at Brooklyn College of the City University of New York. He holds AB and MS degrees from the University of Chicago and a PhD from Harvard University where he worked with Paul Bartlett. He has long been interested in the history of chemistry, in particular the development of physical organic chemistry, and has conducted over fifty oral and videotaped interviews with major American chemists.