Rudolph Pariser

Born: December 8, 1923 | Harbin, CN

Rudolph Pariser's life has been significantly shaped by the historical events of the twentieth century, from being born in China after his mother found refuge there during the Russian Revolution while his father escaped from his Russian captives, to being taught in Tokyo as a result of the Japanese invasion of China, and eventually permanently relocating to California due to the attack on Pearl Harbor. Pariser continued his education at the University of California at Berkeley, earning his degree in chemical technology there and later his PhD in physical chemistry at the University of Minnesota after his military service. Pariser then started a long and successful career at Du Pont, originally as a Research Chemist but eventually rising through the ranks of research management owing to his contribution to the development of PPP theory; Du Pont recognized Pariser for his technical achievement by awarding him the Lavoisier Medal in 2003. 

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Interview Details

Interview no.: Oral History 0320
No. of pages: 77
Minutes: 227

Interview Sessions

28 October 2005
Chemical Heritage Foundation, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Abstract of Interview


Year Institution Degree Discipline
1944 BSc Chemistry
1950 PhD Physical Chemistry

Professional Experience

1944 to 1946
Infantry and Signal Corps
1950 to 1954
Research Chemist, Organic Chemicals Department
1954 to 1959
Research Supervisor, Organic Chemicals Department
1959 to 1963
Division Head, Elastomer Chemicals Department
1967 to 1970
Assistant Laboratory Director, Elastomer Chemicals Department
1967 to 1970
Laboratory Director, Elastomer Chemicals Department
1970 to 1972
Director, Exploratory Research
1970 to 1972
Manager, Research and Development, Elastomer Chemicals Department
1972 to 1974
Manager, Market Research and Market Development, Elastomer Chemicals Department
1974 to 1979
Director, Pioneering Research, Elastomer Chemicals Department

National Research Council

1979 to 1981
Co-chairman, Panel on Polymer Science and Engineering
1979 to 1982
Committee on Chemical Sciences
Co-chairman, Panel on High Performance Composites
1986 to 1989
Committee on Materials Science and Engineering
1996 to 1998
Committee on Fire Suppression Subsitutes and Alternatives to Halon

E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Co.

1980 to 1981
Research Director, Polymer Products Department
1981 to 1986
Director, Polymer Science, Central Research and Development Department
1986 to 1988
Director, Advanced Materials Science, Central Research & Development Department

National Science Foundation

1986 to 1989
Materials Research Advisory Committee
VPI evaluation and site visit
Small Business Innovation Research Program

R. Pariser & Co., Inc.

1989 to 2006

Chemical Heritage Foundation

2002 to 2006
Executive, Program and Membership Committees, Joseph Priestley Society
2003 to 2006
Executive Committee, Robert Boyle Society
2005 to 2006
Board of Overseers


Year(s) Award

Delaware Section Award, American Chemical Society


Outstanding Achievement Award, University of Minnesota


International Journal of Quantum Chemistry, April Issue, in honor of Rudolph Pariser, Robert G. Parr, and John A. Pople


Fellow, American Association for the Advancement of Science


Fellow, World Innovation Foundation


Honorary Fellow, World Innovation Foundation


The Lavoisier Medal for Technical Achievement


Emeritus Certificate, Rubber Division, American Chemical Society


Fellow, International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry

Table of Contents

Family Background and Youth

Growing up in Harbin, China. How Pariser's father and mother ended up in Harbin. Attending the Von Hindenburg Schule. A brief history of Manchuria. Experiencing World War II from the Far East. Attending American School in Japan (ASIJ). Mother's work with World War II refugees. Jim Rasbury.

Moving to the United States

Enrolling at the University of California at Berkeley. Father's escape from Harbin. Working at Kaiser Permanente Mills. The Chemistry Department at UC Berkeley. Enlisting in the United States Army. Experiences in the Army. Ph.D. work on chlorophyll photosensitized reactions at the University of Minnesota.

Joining DuPont

Jackson Laboratory. Research on stilbene derivatives. Mentors. Research on the relationship between structure and color of dyes. Working with Robert Parr. Zero differential overlap. Using IBM computers. The Spectroscopy and Molecular Structure Symposium of 1952. Calculations with PPP Theory.

Managing at DuPont

Considering an academic career. Impressions of the IBM 701. Doing polymer-related work. Joining the Elastomer Chemicals Department. Neoprene research. Developing Viton. The Pariser Prize. Becoming the Director of Exploratory Research. Developing Vamac. Developing Hytrel. Developing Kalrez. Rewarding performance.

Later Management Positions

Working in the Sales Department. Departmentalization at DuPont. The affect of the 1970s oil crisis on DuPont. Becoming the Research Director in charge of Pioneering Research. Working on group-transfer polymerization. Charles Pederson. Crown ethers. Pederson's research. Central Research as "Purity Hall. " Mentoring at DuPont.


Charles Overberger. Experiences at the NRC. On the ad hoc panel of Department of Energy chemistry research. Edel Wasserman. Halon fire suppression. CHEMRAWN VII and XIV. Meeting Margaret Louise Marsh. Thoughts on his legacy at DuPont. Winning the Lavoisier Medal.

Appendix - Illustrations

About the Interviewer

Arthur Daemmrich

Arthur Daemmrich is an assistant professor in the Business, Government, and International Economy Unit at Harvard Business School and a senior research fellow at the Chemical Heritage Foundation. His research examines science, medicine, and the state, with a focus on advancing theories of risk and regulation through empirical research on the pharmaceutical, biotechnology, and chemical sectors. At HBS he also plays an active role in an interdisciplinary Healthcare Initiative, advancing scholarship and developing applied lessons for the business of creating and delivering health services and health-related technologies. Daemmrich was previously the director of the Center for Contemporary History and Policy at the Chemical Heritage Foundation. He earned a PhD in Science and Technology Studies from Cornell University in 2002 and has held fellowships at the Social Science Research Council/Berlin Program for Advanced German and European Studies, the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, and the Chemical Heritage Foundation. He has published widely on pharmaceutical and chemical regulation, biotechnology business and policy, innovation, and history of science.