Malcolm M. Renfrew
The information listed below is current as of the date the transcript was finalized.
Abstract of Interview
Malcolm Renfrew grew up in the Northwest. Despite an early interest in music, drama and the arts, Renfrew studied chemistry at the University of Idaho, in part, influenced by a chemist uncle. After serving as a teaching assistant in both physics and chemistry and completing a Masters thesis, he joined George Glockler at Minnesota for research on Raman spectroscopy. He recalls contemporaries at both Moscow and Minneapolis, as well as a summer spent on the road with a tent show. When Renfrew joined the Arlington laboratories of du Pont, he was much involved with plastics development, especially of Teflon, and he recalls the enthusiastic interest aroused by the disclosure of its properties at an ACS meeting in 1946. Malcolm Renfrew has long had a special interest in health and safety in the chemical environment, and he recounts laboratory accidents during the development of PTFE. After moving to General Mills and then to Spencer Kellogg, ascending the research management ladder, Renfrew went back to his alma mater in 1959 as head of physical science. He completes the interview with an account of his return to teaching.
|1932||University of Idaho||BS||Chemistry|
|1934||University of Idaho||MS||Chemistry|
|1938||University of Minnesota||PhD||Chemistry|
University of Idaho
University of Minnesota
E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Co.
General Mills, Inc
Spencer Kellogg and Sons, Inc.
Honorary DSc, University of Idaho
Norris Award, Northeastern Section, American Chemical Society
University of Idaho Alumni Hall of Fame
College Chemistry Teacher Award, Manufacturing Chemists Association
University of Minnesota Alumni Achievement Award
Division of Chemical Health and Safety Award, American Chemical Society
Mosher Award, Santa Clara Valley Section, American Chemical Society
Table of Contents
Family background and growing up in Idaho and Washington. Early interests in music and drama. Influence of a chemist uncle.
Chemistry studies under Von Ende and Cady. Effects of the Depression. Research for M.S. degree. Colleagues at Idaho. Summer with tent show.
Teaching assistant in chemistry; chlorine incident. Raman spectroscopy with Glockler. Contemporaries.
Plastics development. Brooklyn seminars. Teflon and wartime needs. Laboratory accidents. Unveiling of Teflon at ACS meeting. Photopolymerization studies.
Reactive polyamide resin research. Move to Kellogg, new research laboratory.
Head of physical science, recruitment of new faculty. Teaching responsibilities. Laboratory safety concerns. ACS activities; column in the Journal of Chemical Education.
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.