Robert W. Parry
The information listed below is current as of the date the transcript was finalized.
Abstract of Interview
Robert W. Parry begins the interview with a discussion of his childhood in Ogden, Utah. After graduating from Ogden High School, Parry attended Weber College for two years, where he studied chemistry until his funding ran out. At that point, Parry started performing research for the United States Department of Agriculture Forest Service. When Rudger H. Walker, Parry's supervisor at the Forest Service, became dean of the College of Agriculture at Utah State University in Logan, Parry followed him, and there received his B.S. in 1940. Parry continued his education, earning his M.S. from Cornell University in 1942 and his PhD from the University of Illinois in 1946. Parry briefly discusses his early career, which included positions at E. I. du Pont de Nemours and Company, the Munitions Development Laboratory at the University of Illinois, the University of Michigan, and the University of Utah. Parry then discusses at length his experiences with the Gordon Research Conferences (GRC). Parry attended his first conference on inorganic chemistry in the 1950s and has attended almost every Inorganic Chemistry Conference since. Parry has served GRC as a conference chairman, as an executive committee member, and as chairman of the board of directors. Parry describes the evolution of GRC through four distinct eras: the Gibson Island Conferences, and the directorships of W. George Parks, Alexander M. Cruickshank, and Carlyle B. Storm. Parry concludes the interview with a discussion of the strengths and importance of GRC.
|1940||Utah State University||BS||Chemistry|
|1942||Cornell University||MS||Inorganic Chemistry|
|1946||University of Illinois at Chicago||PhD||Inorganic Chemistry|
University of Illinois at Chicago
University of Michigan
University of Utah
Manufacturing Chemists Award for College Teaching
Senior US Scientist Award, Alexander Von Humboldt-Stiftung
DSc, honoris causa, Utah State University
First Governor's Medal of Science, State of Utah
DSc,honoris causa, University of Utah
Table of Contents
Family background and encouragement of education. Undergraduate studies at Weber State College and Utah State University. Research work for the United States Department of Agriculture Forest Service. Graduate studies at Cornell University.
Development of a new tetryl plant for E. I. DuPont de Nemours and Company during World War II. Work at the Munitions Development Laboratory at the University of Illinois. Doctoral studies with John C. Bailar. Tenured professorship at the University of Michigan. Being lured to the University of Utah by James C. Fletcher.
Attending the first Inorganic Chemistry GRC, presentation on boron chemistry, and being "eaten alive" by conferees. Format and atmosphere of GRC presentations. Attendance and continuity of the Inorganic Chemistry Conference. Conference sites.
Applying to GRC. Election of conference chairs. Institution of vice chairs. Cultivation of industrial support by W. George Parks. Establishment of daily schedule by Neil E. Gordon. Involvement of women. Conferees' families at GRC.
Institutional diversity of conferees. Industrial participation and support. Fundraising techniques of Parks and Gordon. First non-industry grant, and development of federal support for GRC. Controversy over military-funded research in the 1970s.
Four eras of GRC. Parry as board chair. Parks is prosecuted by the IRS and resigns.
Roles of Alex and Irene Cruickshank in operations under Parks. Alex appointed director. Gradual shift to academic domination of attendance. Conference evaluation and the selection and scheduling committee. GRC finances. Diversity of attendance and relationship to successful conferences. Storm's leadership and expansion overseas.
Path to becoming GRC board chair. GRC expansion and public relations. GRC's impact on science.
About the Interviewer
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.