Melvin S. Newman
The information listed below is current as of the date the transcript was finalized.
Abstract of Interview
This interview covers the education, teaching, and research of Melvin S. Newman, an eminent organic chemist. Initially, Newman discusses his family, childhood, and early education. He then elucidates his undergraduate and graduate activities at Yale and describes his initial experiences at Ohio State University, where he has spent most of his academic career. The interview continues with Newman's remarks about his early consulting and doctoral advising. The central portion of the interview contains Newman's reflections about his research at Ohio State and his approach to teaching in the classroom and in the laboratory. His publications, use of the innovative “Newman Projection,” later consulting, patents, and awards are also discussed. The interview concludes with Newman's views about research funding, former students, and philosophies of teaching and administration.
Ohio State University
US Bureau of Mines
The Upjohn Company
University of Glasgow
|1939 to 1940||
Howald Scholar, Ohio State University
Elected member of National Academy of Sciences
American Chemical Society Award for Creative Work in Synthetic Organic Chemistry
Honorary DSc degree, University of New Orleans
Wilbur Cross Medal, Yale University
Joseph Sullivant Award, Ohio State University
Honorary DSc degree, Bowling Green State University
Roger Adams Award of American Chemical Society
Honorary DSc degree, Ohio State University
Table of Contents
Siblings. Father's occupation. Relocation from New Orleans to New York City. Early love of sports. Tutoring by an organic chemist.
Preoccupation with golf. A major in chemistry.
Parental pressure to go into business. Graduate work in chemistry. R. J. Anderson as thesis director and lessons that he taught. The thesis topic.
Prof. William Evans. Salary. Teaching assignments. The chemistry faculty at Ohio State. Promotion to assistant professor.
Hired as a consultant. The vitamin A synthesis. Liquid ammonia syntheses.
Lloyd Joshel. Milton Orchin. Harold Vivian.
Initial experiences in the classroom. Teach a few things well rather than a lot of things poorly. " Importance of showing students the worth of organic chemistry to society. Emphasis upon independent study. The program to acquaint outstanding high school students with the enterprise of chemistry.
Polycyclic hydrocarbon work. The general synthesis of benzanthracene derivatives. Pseudoesters and sterifications. Work with sulfuric acid. The application of physical chemistry to specific problems.
The genesis. Its advantages. Three dimensional representation on a flat surface.
Independent work stressed. Accountability for ninety percent yield of products.
Steric Effects in Organic Chemistry. Optical activity in hydrocarbons. Aromatic electrophilic substitution. Work with 4,5-dimethylacridine.
Continental Oil Company. Diamond Alkali. International Flavors and Fragrances. The National Academy of Sciences.
An eclectic approach. Unsaturated carbonium ions. Work with vinylene carbonate.
A decision that allowed researchers at universities to patent their discoveries. Several patents mentioned.
Modesty. The true award: chemistry well done.
The value of persistence. Give graduate students the opportunity to use individual initiative. The Rule of Six is a qualitative aid.
Monomethyl ether. The necessity to research "useful" topics.
Advice about career orientation. The students' success and commitment. Students from varied backgrounds. Foreign students.
Advocacy for strong departmental chairmen. Separate teaching and administration on the departmental level. Considerations about tenure. Abuses in the granting of tenure.
Encourage independence and initiative on the part of students. A unique lab course. The teaching of chemistry stresses lectures at the expense of laboratory work. "
About the Interviewer
Milton Orchin is an organic chemist with an interest in the history of chemistry. He received his bachelor’s degree in chemistry at Ohio State University. One of Melvin Newman’s first graduate students, he earned a PhD from Ohio State in 1939. Since then, he has combined research in federal laboratories, especially for the United States Bureau of Mines, with university teaching both at home and abroad.
John H. Wotiz was an organic chemist. Born in Czechoslovakia in 1919, he attended Furman University, the University of Richmond, and Ohio State University, where he received his PhD degree in organic chemistry. He taught at six universities, most recently at Southern Illinois University as professor of chemistry and chairman of the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry. In 1982 he received the American Chemical Society’s Dexter Award in the History of Chemistry. John Wotiz died in 2001.