Paul B. Weisz
The information listed below is current as of the date the transcript was finalized.
Abstract of Interview
Paul Weisz begins this interview by discussing his family background. Because of the political uncertainty of Austria-Hungary in the post World War I period, his family moved to Berlin when he was a young boy. Weisz was educated in the Gymnasium, where he was exposed to basic science and developed an interest in physics and chemistry. His father further encouraged him to pursue the sciences, and Weisz remembers building small radios. Weisz attended the Technical University in Berlin and spent his free time in the laboratory of Wolfgang Kohlhoerster at the Institute of Cosmic Radiation Research. There, he worked on Geiger counter instrumentation and cosmic ray measurements. Because of Hitler's rise to power, Weisz decided to come to the United States and arranged an exchange program with Auburn University. He earned his BS in physics from Auburn in 1940 and accepted a research position at the Bartol Research Foundation in Pennsylvania. There, Weisz worked on radiation counting and projects relating to the National Research Defense Council. After gaining clearance to do classified work, he moved to the MIT Radiation Laboratory where he helped to develop a long range navigation trainer (Loran). Weisz returned to Bartol, but soon decided to move away from cosmic ray research. He accepted a position with Mobil Corporation, where he worked on catalysis and cracking catalysts. In the 1950s, Weisz began to investigate zeolites and shape selective catalysis. In 1966, he completed his ScD at the Eidgenossische Technische Hochschule in Zürich, where he had worked with Heinrich Zollinger on dye chemistry. Weisz concludes the interview by discussing innovation in industry, the importance of interdisciplinary thinking, and his later work on Alzheimer's Disease and angiogenesis.
|1939||Technical University, Berlin||Physics Study|
|1966||Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (Eidgenössiche Technische Hochschule)||PhD|
MIT Radiation Laboratory
Mobil Research and Development Corporation
University of Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania State University
E. V. Murphy Award in Industrial Engineering Chemistry, American Chemical Society
Pioneer Award, American Institute of Chemists
Leo Friend Award, American Chemical Society
Elected member, National Academy of Engineering
R. H. Wilhelm Award, American Institute of Chemical Engineering
Honorary Doctorate (ScD, technological science), Swiss Federal Institute of Technology
Lavoisier Medal, Société Chimique de France
Langmuir Distinguished Lecturer Award, American Chemical Society
Perkin Medal, Society of Chemical Industry
Chemistry of Contemporary Technological Problems Award, American Chemical Society
Carothers Award, American Chemical Society
DGKM Kollegium Award (Germany)
National Medal of Technology
Table of Contents
Family background. Gymnasium and interest in science. Influence of father.
Attendance at Technical University in Berlin. Work in laboratory at Institute of Cosmic Radiation Research. Decision to go to the United States. Exchange with Auburn University.
Radiation counting. Projects for National Research Defense Council. Work on navigation instrumentation. Clearance for classified work.
Research freedom. Work on catalysis and cracking catalysts. Investigation of heterogeneous catalysis. Work on zeolites. Development of selectoforming. Researching shape selective catalysis.
Interdisciplinary thinking. Conflict between corporate thinking and research needs.
Teaching at the University of Pennsylvania. Interrelation between zeolite work and research on Alzheimer's Disease. Work on angiogenesis. Receiving the Perkin Medal and the National Medal of Technology.
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.