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James Shoffner

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Information about James Shoffner

Profile image of James Shoffner

Profession

Category:
ScienceMakers
Occupation(s):
Organic Chemist

Favorites

Favorite Color:
None
Favorite Food:
Chitterlings
Favorite Time of Year:
Fall
Favorite Vacation Spot:
San Diego, California, San Francisco, California, New York City, New York
Favorite Quote:
None

Birthplace

Born:
1/14/1928
Birth Location:
New Madrid, Missouri

Profession

Category:
ScienceMakers
Occupation(s):
Organic Chemist

Favorites

Favorite Color:
None
Favorite Food:
Chitterlings
Favorite Time of Year:
Fall
Favorite Vacation Spot:
San Diego, California, San Francisco, California, New York City, New York
Favorite Quote:
None

Birthplace

Born:
1/14/1928
Birth Location:
New Madrid
See how James Shoffner is related to other HistoryMakers

Biography

Organic chemist James Shoffner was born on January 14, 1928 and raised on a rural plantation in New Madrid, Missouri. Shoffner's segregated school was open only five months a year; the rest of the time was reserved for growing cotton. He transferred to a boarding school in Kansas City, Missouri where he was first introduced to chemistry and biology. However, Shoffner still had to help in the cotton fields and school for him did not begin until late November. He attended Lincoln University for a year before joining the United States Army, where he earned tuition benefits through the G.I. Bill. After completing his military service, Shoffner returned to college and received his B.S. degree in chemistry from Lincoln University in 1951.

Following graduation, Shoffner worked at the United States Post Office before returning to school and earning his M.S. degree in organic chemistry from DePaul University. Schoffner worked at a local paint company before being hired as a carbohydrate researcher at Corn Products International. After six years, Shoffner returned to graduate school to pursue his doctoral degree in organic chemistry at the University of Illinois, Chicago. After receiving his Ph.D. degree in 1965, Shoffner joined Universal Oil Products Company (UOP) where he would spend the next thirty-six years working in petroleum chemistry, specifically studying NMR spectroscopy and additives for plastics. Shoffner started a second career with the American Chemical Society (ACS) becoming active in the Division of Petroleum Chemistry. He held a series of positions in ACS' Chicago Section including serving as a board member and co-chair of Project SEED, a program to help disadvantaged students pursue a career in chemistry. He became a councilor of the ACS in 1974. In 1993, Shoffner retired from Universal Oil Products and joined Columbia College in Chicago as a science professor and science education consultant. In 2006, Shoffner organized the American Chemical Society conference honoring the famed chemist, Percy L. Julian. He was also instrumental in the development and served as a consultant for the 2007 PBS NOVA program, Forgotten Genius , about the life of Percy L. Julian.

James Shoffner has been active with the American Chemical Society for over forty years and received his thirty-year councilor plaque in 2005. Shoffner was awarded the ACS Award for Encouraging Disadvantaged Students into Careers in the Chemical Sciences and the Henry Hill Award. Shoffner lives in Elk Grove, Illinois.

James P. Shoffner was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on April 18, 2012.

See how James Shoffner is related to other HistoryMakers
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  • Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of James Shoffner's interview
  • Tape: 1 Story: 2 - James Shoffner lists his favorites
  • Tape: 1 Story: 3 - James Shoffner describes his mother's family background
  • Tape: 1 Story: 4 - James Shoffner talks about his mother's growing up
  • Tape: 1 Story: 5 - James Shoffner describes his father's family background
  • Tape: 2 Story: 1 - James Shoffner talks about his father
  • Tape: 2 Story: 2 - James Shoffner describes his parents' personalities and who he takes after
  • Tape: 2 Story: 3 - James Shoffner describes his earliest childhood memories
  • Tape: 2 Story: 4 - James Shoffner talks about the seismic activity of New Madrid, Missouri
  • Tape: 2 Story: 5 - James Shoffner talks about his siblings and his childhood home in New Madrid, Missouri
  • Tape: 2 Story: 6 - James Shoffner describes the sights, sounds and smells of growing up
  • Tape: 2 Story: 7 - James Shoffner talks about growing up in the church
  • Tape: 2 Story: 8 - James Shoffner talks about working in the fields
  • Tape: 2 Story: 9 - James Shoffner talks about his elementary school experience, part 1
  • Tape: 3 Story: 1 - James Shoffner talks about his elementary school experience, part 2
  • Tape: 3 Story: 2 - James Shoffner talks about listening to radio during his childhood
  • Tape: 3 Story: 3 - James Shoffner talks about his high school experience, part 1
  • Tape: 3 Story: 4 - James Shoffner remembers his introduction into chemistry
  • Tape: 3 Story: 5 - James Shoffner talks about his decision to attend Lincoln University
  • Tape: 3 Story: 6 - James Shoffner talks about his peers and his experience at Lincoln University
  • Tape: 4 Story: 1 - James Shoffner talks about his studies at Lincoln University
  • Tape: 4 Story: 2 - James Shoffner talks about his experience serving in the Army, part 1
  • Tape: 4 Story: 3 - James Shoffner talks about his experience serving in the Army, part 2
  • Tape: 4 Story: 4 - James Shoffner talks about his mentor, Dr. Monty Taylor
  • Tape: 4 Story: 5 - James Shoffner reflects on his aspirations to be a medical doctor
  • Tape: 4 Story: 6 - James Shoffner talks about his graduate school pursuits and how he met his wife
  • Tape: 5 Story: 1 - James Shoffner talks about his work at Corn Products Refining Company
  • Tape: 5 Story: 2 - James Shoffner considers the health concerns of corn by-products
  • Tape: 5 Story: 3 - James Shoffner talks about his decision to pursue his Ph.D. and his experience at Johnsteen Paint and Varnish Company
  • Tape: 5 Story: 4 - James Shoffner talks about his dissertation on the structure of pyridinium compounds
  • Tape: 5 Story: 5 - James Shoffner talks about meeting Percy Julian
  • Tape: 6 Story: 1 - James Shoffner talks about Percy Julian's scientific contributions and NOBCChE
  • Tape: 6 Story: 2 - James Shoffner talks about his decision to join Universal Oil Products
  • Tape: 6 Story: 3 - James Shoffner talks about Project SEED
  • Tape: 6 Story: 4 - James Shoffner talks about his patents, part 1
  • Tape: 6 Story: 5 - James Shoffner talks about his appointment as Councillor to the American Chemical Society
  • Tape: 6 Story: 6 - James Shoffner talks about his patents, part 2
  • Tape: 7 Story: 1 - James Shoffner talks about his professional affiliations and black scientific organizations
  • Tape: 7 Story: 2 - James Shoffner reflects on his career at Universal Oil Products
  • Tape: 7 Story: 3 - James Shoffner talks about the nation's discourse about science policy and education in the U.S.
  • Tape: 7 Story: 4 - James Shoffner talks about his hopes and concerns for the African American community
  • Tape: 7 Story: 5 - James Shoffner talks about teaching at Columbia College
  • Tape: 8 Story: 1 - James Shoffner talks about the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development
  • Tape: 8 Story: 2 - James Shoffner reflects upon his legacy
  • Tape: 8 Story: 3 - James Shoffner talks about his family
  • Tape: 8 Story: 4 - James Shoffner talks how he would like to be remembered