Herbert Morawetz

Born: October 16, 1915 | Prague, HU
Died: Sunday, October 29, 2017 | New York, NY, US

In this interview, Herbert Morawetz traces his early life prior to leaving Czechoslovakia on the Nazi invasion and resettling in Canada, where he studied chemical engineering at the University of Toronto. He describes his introduction to industrial research work and his consequent Ph.D. study at Brooklyn Polytechnic Institute and late postdoctoral fellowship at Harvard Medical School. Morawetz also reflects on the future of polymer education and on international scientific collaboration. 

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Interview Details

Interview no.: Oral History 0032
No. of pages: 44
Minutes: 242

Interview Sessions

James J. Bohning
1 April 1986
Polytechnic University, New York, New York

Abstract of Interview

In this interview, Herbert Morawetz traces his early life prior to leaving Czechoslovakia on the Nazi invasion and resettling in Canada, where he studied chemical engineering at the University of Toronto. He describes his introduction to industrial research work and his consequent PhD study at Brooklyn Polytechnic Institute and late postdoctoral fellowship at Harvard Medical School. Morawetz outlines the circumstances of his appointment to the faculty at Brooklyn and his research and scholarly activities there. During the course of the interview Morawetz reflects on some of his graduate students, on the future of polymer education, and on international scientific collaboration. 

Education

Year Institution Degree Discipline
1942 University of Toronto BASc Chemical Engineering
1943 University of Toronto MASc Chemical Engineering
1950 Brooklyn Polytechnic Institute PhD Chemistry

Professional Experience

Bakelite Co.

1945 to 1949
Research Chemist

Harvard Medical School

1950 to 1951
N.I.H. Fellow

Brooklyn Polytechnic Institute

1951 to 1953
Assistant Professor of Chemistry
1953 to 1958
Associate Professor
1958 to 1981
Professor
1981 to 1986
Institute Professor
1986
Institute Professor Emeritus

Honors

Year(s) Award
1966 to 1967

N. I. H. Fellow, Universities of Naples and Rome

1980

Centennial Scholar, Case Western Reserve University

1984

Whitby Memorial Lecturer, University of Akron

1985

Polymer Chemistry Award, American Chemical Society

Table of Contents

Childhood and Early Education
1

Family background, father's business interests. High school studies and training period in Northern Ireland. Escape from Nazi-occupied Czechoslovakia.

University Education in Canada
8

Undergraduate study of chemical engineering. Master's program.

Industrial Employment and Further Studies
11

Polymer research and development at Bakelite Company. Postgraduate study at Brooklyn Polytechnic Institute and Ph.D. research with Turner Alfrey. Postdoctoral fellowship at Harvard Medical School.

Faculty Appointment at Brooklyn Polytechnic Institute
18

Solid-state polymerization. Sabbatical leave at Weizmann Institute. Microtacticity. Publication of books, interest in history of polymer science. Boycott of Tashkent meeting. Graduate students, consultancy, and patents.

Notes
38
Index
40

About the Interviewer

James J. Bohning

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.