Mark A. Ratner
The information listed below is current as of the date the transcript was finalized.
Abstract of Interview
Mark A. Ratner begins the interview by describing his early connection to science while growing up in Cleveland, Ohio, working at the Harshaw Chemical Company as a high school summer job, and switching between various majors as an undergraduate student at Harvard University. After Harvard, Ratner attended graduate school at Northwestern University and became a postdoctoral fellow in Denmark and Munich. Upon returning to the US, Ratner began teaching at New York University for several years and worked with graduate student Avi Aviram to explore molecular rectifiers (later called molecular electronics). Ratner returned to Northwestern in 1975,this time as a faculty member in the Chemistry Department. Next Ratner reflected on collaboration with various institutions such as IBM and DARPA, and the development of molecular electronics research with Aviram. Moving on to the Gordon Research Conferences, Ratner described his experiences as an organizing chair; a member of the board of directors; and being on steering and selection (S&S) committee. Finally, Ratner concluded the interview reflecting on evolving funding practices, the importance of having a staff at research centers, and offering some thoughts on the future of nanotechnology.
New York University
|1972 to 1975||
A. P. Sloan Foundation Fellow
Fellow, Advanced Study Institute, Hebrew University
Fellow, American Physical Society
Fellow, American Association for Advancement of Science
Fellow, Advanced Study Institute, Hebrew University
Member, American Academy of Arts and Sciences
Member, National Academy of Sciences
Foreign Member, Royal Danish Academy of Science
Member, International Academy of Quantum Molecular Sciences
Dr. Sci. (H. C. ), Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Hirschfelder Prize in Theoretical Chemistry, University of Wisconsin
Table of Contents
Influence of Sputnik on childhood education. High school summer job at Harshaw Chemical Company. Family influence and encouragement.
Undergraduate studies at Harvard University. Switching majors between mathematics, English, and chemistry. Summer research with Eugene Rochow. Graduate school at Northwestern University. Reflections on the Northwestern chemistry department. Research with G. Ludwig Hofacker. Writing graduate thesis.
Postdoctoral fellowship at Aarhus University with Jan Linderberg. Gradually moving away from formal theoretical chemistry. Teaching at New York University. Setting up a research laboratory. Becoming Ari Aviram's advisor. Interest in molecular rectifier research. Connection with IBM through Aviram. NYU reorganization and decision to return to Northwestern.
Research collaborations. Interactions with DARPA. Impressions of John Pople. Development of molecular electronics research with Aviram.
Attending, chairing and organizing conferences. Involvement with GRC governance. Broad of Directors and Selection and Scheduling Committee duties.
Works of other molecular electronics researchers and their impact. Thoughts on having joint students and post-docs with other researchers. Differences in today's funding practices versus the past.
Setting up research centers at Northwestern and importance of having a staff. Spin-off companies development. The future of nanotechnology.
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.
Cyrus Mody is an assistant professor of history at Rice University. Prior to that position he was the manager of the Nanotechnology and Innovation Studies programs in the Center for Contemporary History and Policy at the Chemical Heritage Foundation. He has a bachelor’s degree in mechanical and materials engineering from Harvard University and a PhD in science and technology studies from Cornell. He was the 2004–2005 Gordon Cain Fellow at CHF before becoming a program manager. Mody has published widely on the history and sociology of materials science, instrumentation, and nanotechnology.