John R. Schaefgen

Born: April 9, 1918 | Wilmette, IL, US
Died: Saturday, September 13, 2014 | Wilmington, DE, US
Portrait of John Schaefgen

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In this interview John Schaefgen begins with his family history and early life in Gross Point, Illinois. He then discusses the development of his interest in science, and describes his education, including his professors and fellow students at Northwestern University and Ohio State University. In the central portion of the interview, Schaefgen considers his association with Paul Flory at the Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company and recalls his move to the Pioneering Research Laboratory at Du Pont. He then describes his interests and accomplishments in polymer chemistry. The interview concludes with a discussion of his colleagues, professional society activities, and views on the characteristics of innovative research.

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Interview Details

Interview no.: Oral History 0041
No. of pages: 41
Minutes: 117

Interview Sessions

Raymond C. Ferguson
3 April 1986

Abstract of Interview

In this interview John Schaefgen begins with his family history and early life in Gross Point, Illinois. He then discusses the development of his interest in science, and describes his education, including his professors and fellow students at Northwestern University and Ohio State University. In the central portion of the interview, Schaefgen considers his association with Paul Flory at the Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company and recalls his move to the Pioneering Research Laboratory at DuPont. He then describes his interests and accomplishments in polymer chemistry. The interview concludes with a discussion of his colleagues, professional society activities, and views on the characteristics of innovative research.

Education

Year Institution Degree Discipline
1940 Northwestern University BS Chemistry
1944 Ohio State University PhD Physical Organic Chemistry

Professional Experience

Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company

1944 to 1951
Research Chemist

E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Co.

1951 to 1952
Research chemist
1952 to 1977
Research Associate
1977 to 1982
Research Fellow

ELJAY Associates, Inc.

1983
Consultant

Table of Contents

Childhood, family background and early education
1

Parents and brothers. Education at grade and high school. Childhood illness.

Undergraduate Education
5

Northwestern University, 1936-40. Organic and physical chemistry professors.

Graduate Education
7

Ohio State University, 1940-43. Teaching assistant duties. Graduate student accommodation. Professorial advisors. Fellow graduate students.

Employment with Goodyear
10

Discusses influence of P. J. Flory, his research supervision and his experience at DuPont. Research on polyesters and publications with Flory. Coworkers. Research on branched polymers and on polyelectrolyte effects. Break-up of the Goodyear research group.

Employment with DuPont
16

Organizational structure and style in Pioneering Research Laboratory. Discusses molecular structural requirements for strong fibers. Research reporting within the company. Flory as consultant to DuPont. Discusses function of outside consultants.

Retirement from DuPont
26

Consulting. Professional activities, ACS and Gordon conferences. Discusses publication policy in private industry. Innovative research. Family; wife, her scientific education. Children and grandchildren. Contact with retired colleagues. Alterations in chemistry during career. Influential polymer chemists.

Notes
37
Index
38

About the Interviewer

Raymond C. Ferguson

Raymond C. Ferguson obtained his degrees in chemistry from Iowa State University (BS, MS) and Harvard University (PhD). He worked in research divisions of the Organic Chemicals, Elastomer Chemicals, and Central Research Departments of DuPont, principally in molecular spectroscopy, organic structure analysis, and polymer characterization. Currently he is affiliated with CONDUX, Inc., a consulting association of former DuPont professionals.