Frank R. Mayo

Born: June 23, 1908 | Chicago, IL, US
Died: Friday, October 30, 1987 | Menlo Park, CA, US

Mayo traces his professional career as a research chemist with Du Pont, as an instructor at the University of Chicago where his primary role was the supervision of Morris Kharasch's research group, as a group leader at U. S. Rubber during and after World War II, as a research associate at General Electric, and finally as a fellow at SRI International. He also comments on the rise of free radical chemistry and the value of applying basic research to practical problems. 

The information listed below is current as of the date the transcript was finalized.

			

Interview Details

Interview no.: Oral History 0031
No. of pages: 56
Minutes: 160

Interview Sessions

Leon B. Gortler
21 January 1981
SRI International, Stanford, California

Abstract of Interview

In this interview Dr. Frank Mayo first discusses his educational career as an undergraduate and graduate student at the University of Chicago. He then traces his professional career as a research chemist with DuPont, an instructor at the University of Chicago where his primary role was the supervision of Morris Kharasch's research group, a group leader at U. S. Rubber during and after World War II, a research associate at General Electric, and finally, a fellow at SRI International. He discusses his closest associates, explains his scientific work, and comments on the rise of free radical chemistry and the value of applying basic research to practical problems. 

Education

Year Institution Degree Discipline
1929 University of Chicago BS Chemistry
1931 University of Chicago PhD Chemistry

Professional Experience

University of Chicago

1931 to 1932
Lilly Fellow
1936 to 1942
Instructor

E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Co.

1933 to 1935
Research Chemist

United States Rubber Company

1942 to 1950
Group Leader, Research Chemist

General Electric Company

1950 to 1956
Research Associate

SRI International

1956 to 1982
Scientific Fellow

Honors

Year(s) Award
1967

Award in Polymer Chemistry, American Chemical Society

Table of Contents

Family and Undergraduate Education
1

Parents (Frank and Clara Rea). Brother. Family finances. Early chemical influence. Scholarship to the University of Chicago. Other chemistry students. Courses. Offer to attend graduate school.

Graduate Education at the University of Chicago
6

Financial support. Advanced organic chemistry text. Research problem. Morris Kharasch, research director. Other graduate students.

Industrial position at DuPont
11

Research at DuPont. Paper on pyridine reduction.

Marriage
12

Children. Grandchildren.

Instructor at the University of Chicago
13

Research director for Kharasch. Salary at Du Pont and Chicago. Chairman at Chicago. Running the Kharasch group. Kharasch's relations with other chemists. Kharasch's students. James Senior. Frank Westheimer. George Wheland. Influential organic chemists and physical organic chemists. Journal of Organic Chemistry. Halogenation of toluene. Competitive nature of Kharasch. Chemical Reviews article with Walling. Courses taught. Ph.D. students and their research problems. Leaving Chicago.

U. S. Rubber
25

Location and description of laboratory. People in group. Research problems. Management support for basic research. Change in management attitude after World War II. Academic consultants. Chemical Reviews article on copolymerization with Walling.

Organic Mechanisms Conference
32

Change in Kharasch's research directors. Status of free radical polymerization mechanisms in 1930.

GE Research Laboratories
35

Structure. Coworkers. Oxidation of olefins. Silicones.

SRI International
36

Research. Financial support of research. Oxidation of polyolefins. Academic offers. Research on polymer aging. Basic research on practical problems. Contract arrangements with companies for basic research.

Transformation of Organic Chemistry
41

Kharasch contributions. Kharasch during and after World War II. Effect of World War II on organic chemistry and physical organic chemistry. Solvolysis studies.

Academic-Industrial Interface
45

Two major career breaks. Cheves Walling and his move from DuPont to U. S. Rubber. Kharasch's inability to place students in academic positions.

Notes
48
Index
51

About the Interviewer

Leon B. Gortler

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.