Fred W. McLafferty
The information listed below is current as of the date the transcript was finalized.
Abstract of Interview
Fred W. McLafferty's oral history begins with a discussion of his family's history of education and his early life in Nebraska during the Great Depression. Sparked by a high school chemistry class, McLafferty decided to pursue the subject at the University of Nebraska. Because his undergraduate career coincided with World War II, McLafferty entered an accelerated degree program and enlisted in the war. After months of combat, he returned for graduate work at Nebraska, where he earned his Master's degree and published papers as an analytical chemist. After moving to Cornell University to pursue his doctorate degree, his interest shifted to organic chemistry and his work on organofluorine compounds began. In 1950, after completing his degree, McLafferty entered industry at the Dow Chemical Company in Michigan, where he was introduced to mass spectrometry. There, McLafferty and Roland Gohlke helped develop instrumentation and gas chromatography-mass spectrometry. After several years, McLafferty was sent by Dow to Boston, Massachusetts to direct its new research lab. There he worked on patents and the McLafferty rearrangements in mass spectracorrelations and utilized time-of-flight. In his oral history, McLafferty speaks often of the community and meetings of mass spectrometrists, and how he has collaborated and interacted with this community in the past fifty years. In 1964 he left Dow for an academic position at Purdue University, where he created a new research program. He continued his collaboration with Gohlke and also started collaborating with Klaus Biemann on topics such as collisional activation and gas chromatography. While at Purdue, McLafferty consulted for companies like Dow and Hitachi, and began securing grant money for research. After four years at Purdue University, he became Peter J. W. Debye Professor of Chemistry at Cornell University. McLafferty discusses his longtime position at Cornell University, which has allowed him both to publish landmark works and to develop techniques like electron capture dissociation and top down proteomics, and his most recent research work, which has included published papers on the use of ammonium tartrate and succinate in electrospray solution. McLafferty concludes his interview by discussing his impressions and remembrances of his long list of peers.
|1943||University of Nebraska||BS||Chemistry|
|1947||University of Nebraska||MS|
University of Iowa
Dow Chemical Company
American Chemical Society Award in Chemical Instrumentation
Spectroscopy Society of Pittsburgh Award
American Chemical Society Award in Analytical Chemistry
Honorary DSc degree, University of Nebraska
New York Section- American Chemical Society Nichols Gold Medal
International Mass Spectrometry Society J. J. Thomson Gold Medal
Cincinnati Section- American Chemical Society Oesper Award
The Association of Analytical Chemistry Award
East Tennessee Section- American Chemical Society S. C. Lind Award
Ohio State University W. L. Evans Award
Honorary DSc degree, The University of Liège
University of Naples Gold Medal
American Chemical Society Award in Mass Spectrometry
Royal Society of Chemists Robert Boyle Gold Medal
Pioneer in Analytical Instrumentation Award
Honorary DSc degree, Purdue University
American Institute of Chemistry Chemical Pioneer Award
Utrecht University J. M. Bijvoet Medal
Czech Academy of Sciences J. Heyrovsky Medal
Italian Chemical Society G. Natta Gold Medal
Swedish Chemical Society Torbern Bergman Medal
American Society of Mass Spectrometry Award for Distinguished Contributions to Mass Spectrometry
French Chemical Society Lavoisier Medal
International Association of Protein Structure Analysis and Proteomics Pehr Edman Award
Table of Contents
Family's history of college education. Life in rural Nebraska during Great Depression. High school chemistry.
University of Nebraska. Agricultural school and land grants. ROTC and Officer Candidate School. Accelerated bachelor's plan in chemistry. World War II combat and awards. Analytical chemistry.
"University of Nebraska, master's degree. Publishing papers. Cornell University, doctorate work. Organofluorine compounds research. Organic chemistry. University of Iowa post-doctoral research with Ralph Shriner.
Introduction to mass spectrometry. Early instrumentation. The petroleum industry. Solving problems of the physical research lab. The Gordon Research Conference and gas chromatography. The Bersworth Chemical Company. Directing new Boston research lab. Patenting. Publishing. Mass Spectra Correlations.
Sybil Rock. Uncertified Spectra Committee. The research community at Dow. John Beynon. Family.
Purdue University. Creating new research program at Purdue University. Carl Djerassi. Klaus Biemann. Time-of-flight and direct probes. Roland Gohlke. Consulting for Dow and Hitachi. Reverse geometry. Cornell University. Babu Venkataraghaven. Perkin Elmer dispute. Collisional activation.
Early American Society for Testing and Materials community cooperation. First electrospray with Fourier Transform Mass Spectrometry. Landmark papers. Competition with National Institute of Standards and Technology. Interpretation of Mass Spectra. Electron ionization. Electron capture dissociation. Top down proteomics.
Cornell University. Ammonium tartrate and succinate. Carsten Reinhardt's Shifting and Rearranging. Nuclear Magnetic Resonance. Conferences and meetings. Impressions of various notable peers.
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.