Malcolm E. Pruitt
The information listed below is current as of the date the transcript was finalized.
Abstract of Interview
In this interview Mac Pruitt discusses his early upbringing in a rural area of Texas and his struggles to complete undergraduate education during the Depression. After starting as a control chemist on the graveyard shift at the Dow facility in Freeport, Texas, Pruitt progressed through the laboratories and embarked on his extensive studies of the ionic polymerization of cyclic oxide monomers. The circumstances of his move into senior research management and his eventual transfer to Midland, Michigan, are embellished by Pruitt's reflections on R&D and on his initiatory role in the formation of the Chemical Industry Institute of Toxicology and the Council for Chemical Research.
|1941||Abilene Christian University||BS||Chemistry|
Hamilton County Public School
Clyde Independent Schools
Dow Chemical Company
Council for Chemical Research
Alumni Citation, Abilene Christian University
Honorary Doctor of Science, Abilene Christian University
Industrial Research Institute Medal
Society of Research Adminstrators Award
Commercial Development Association Award
Outstanding Alumnus, Abilene Christian University
First Recipient of Mac Pruitt Award, Council for Chemical Research
Earle Barnes Award, American Chemical Society
Table of Contents
Growing up on a farm in Hamilton, Texas. Siblings. Recollections of elementary and high school teachers.
Scholarship to Abilene Christian College. Struggle to continue higher education during the Depression. Break from college to take a full-time teaching job in a rural school. Summer terms at North Texas State College. Graduation from Abilene in 1941 and a further year teaching in Clyde, Texas. Memories of faculty at both colleges.
Circumstances of obtaining position as control chemist in Freeport, Texas. Transfer to Dow Magnesium Corporation and return to the gas laboratories of the main company. Subsequent move to the research laboratory. Polymerization studies of ethylene oxide and related monomers. Problems of the polymerization exotherm; control of molecular weight and its distribution. Development of major program on ionic polymerization. IUPAC meeting on ionic polymerization. Synthetic lubricants. Academic courses at Brooklyn Polytechnic Institute and University of Houston. Urethane developments; Nutrifoam. Birth of Gel Permeation Chromatography and the impetus for instrumental innovation. Colleagues at Dow and their styles of management. Polycarbonate resins.
Reflections on R&D management and its status within the company organization. Product stewardship. Energy and environmental concerns. Formation of the Chemical Industry Institute of Toxicology. Start of the Council for Chemical Research; industrial and academic research cooperation; academic research funding. Problems of senior management in present day industrial chemical research and development. The perceived image of chemistry and the chemical industry.
About the Interviewer
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.