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Ralph Gardner-Chavis

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Information about Ralph Gardner-Chavis

Profile image of Ralph Gardner-Chavis

Profession

Category:
EducationMakers
ScienceMakers
Occupation(s):
Chemistry Professor
Chemist

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Blue
Favorite Food:
Lobster
Favorite Time of Year:
Summer
Favorite Vacation Spot:
San Francisco, California
Favorite Quote:
Don't Let The Bastards Get You Down.

Birthplace

Born:
12/3/1922
Birth Location:
Cleveland, Ohio

Profession

Category:
EducationMakers
ScienceMakers
Occupation(s):
Chemistry Professor
Chemist

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Blue
Favorite Food:
Lobster
Favorite Time of Year:
Summer
Favorite Vacation Spot:
San Francisco, California
Favorite Quote:
Don't Let The Bastards Get You Down.

Birthplace

Born:
12/3/1922
Birth Location:
Cleveland
See how Ralph Gardner-Chavis is related to other HistoryMakers

Biography

Chemist and chemistry professor Ralph Gardner-Chavis was born on December 3, 1922 in Cleveland, Ohio to Vivian Hicks Gardner, a teacher and housewife, and Clarence Chavis Gardner, a musician and government worker. Gardner-Chavis was educated in the Cleveland Public School system. He attended Bolton Elementary School and Audubon Junior High School. Gardner-Chavis graduated from John Adams High School in 1939 and went on to earn his bachelor’s degree in chemistry from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 1943. He completed his graduate studies at Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio, earning both his master’s and Ph.D. degrees in chemistry in 1952 and 1959, respectively.

In order to avoid fighting in World War II, Gardner-Chavis took a job as a research assistant on the Manhattan Project between 1943 and 1947. The project resulted in the United States developing the atomic bomb to end the war in 1945. Immediately after leaving this position, Gardner-Chavis was unable to find a job as a chemist, so he worked as a waiter from 1947 to 1949. He was eventually hired as a research chemist and project leader at the Standard Oil Company in Ohio where he remained for almost twenty years. Gardner-Chavis then took a teaching position in Cleveland State University’s chemistry department where he held a full-time faculty position from 1968 to 1985. As a professor, Gardner-Chavis had an interest in early childhood learning and development, and he started a program with his adult students that advocated reading to babies. He fought for the inclusion of black studies and multi-racial courses in the curriculum at CSU. Gardner-Chavis later combined his part-time teaching with work in the research lab of the Molecular Technology Corporation, where he was also on the board of directors and served as vice president of research. Gardner-Chavis went on to hold emeritus status in the CSU chemistry department while continuing his research on catalysis and molecular technology.

Throughout his career as a chemist, Gardner-Chavis published numerous research articles. He became a member of the Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity in 1942 and the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE) in 2001.

Gardner-Chavis passed away on March 27, 2018 at age 95.

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  • Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Ralph Gardner-Chavis' interview
  • Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Ralph Gardner-Chavis shares his favorites
  • Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Ralph Gardner-Chavis talks about his mother
  • Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Ralph Gardner-Chavis talks about his father's upbringing and interest in music
  • Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Ralph Garder-Chavis talks about his early childhood in Buffalo, New York
  • Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Ralph Gardner-Chavis discusses his family's move to Cleveland, Ohio
  • Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Ralph Gardner-Chavis talks about his Cleveland neighborhood and the schools he attended
  • Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Ralph Gardner-Chavis talks about how his family managed during the Depression
  • Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Ralph Gardner-Chavis talks about his mother's working for the Welfare Department
  • Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Ralph Gardner-Chavis shares a story about his junior high math class
  • Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Ralph Gardner-Chavis explains how he became a chemist instead of joining the military
  • Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Ralph Gardner-Chavis explains how he ended up working as a chemist on the Manhattan Project
  • Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Ralph Gardner-Chavis shares the history and the science behind the Manhattan Project
  • Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Ralph Gardner-Chavis continues to discuss the technology behind the atomic bomb
  • Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Ralph Gardner-Chavis talks about other key players in the race to build an atomic bomb
  • Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Ralph Gardner-Chavis describes the atmosphere in Chicago, Illinois during the creation of the atomic bomb
  • Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Ralph Gardner-Chavis talks about the United States' decision to drop the atomic bomb
  • Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Ralph Gardner-Chavis reflects on the fate of the Manhattan Project and the post-war mood
  • Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Ralph Gardner-Chavis talks about his difficulty finding a job as a chemist after World War II
  • Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Ralph Gardner-Chavis talks about his graduate education and starting his family
  • Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Ralph Gardner-Chavis talks about wanting to work on catalysts at Standard Oil
  • Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Ralph Gardner-Chavis talks about completing his Ph.D. requirements and playing ping pong
  • Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Ralph Gardner-Chavis recalls working under his supervisor at Standard Oil
  • Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Ralph Gardner-Chavis discusses his research on the interactions of gas molecules with the surface of a solid
  • Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Ralph Gardner-Chavis talks about race-related issues between himself and the head of his laboratory at Standard Oil
  • Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Ralph Gardner-Chavis talks about how his publication was chosen for a conference in Moscow, Russia
  • Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Ralph Gardner-Chavis details traveling to Moscow for his conference presentation
  • Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Ralph Gardner-Chavis explains the rise and fall of his American Dream Soap Company
  • Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Ralph Gardner-Chavis talks about his students at Cleveland State University
  • Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Ralph Gardner-Chavis explains his "Reading to Babies" initiative, part 1
  • Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Ralph Gardner-Chavis explains his "Reading to Babies" initiative, part 2
  • Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Ralph Gardner-Chavis talks about his work on diversity curriculum initiative at Cleveland State University
  • Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Ralph Gardner-Chavis explains his battle for tenure at Cleveland State University
  • Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Ralph Gardner-Chavis talks about his conflict with the Department of Chemistry's Personnel Action Committee in the chemistry department at Cleveland State University
  • Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Ralph Gardner-Chavis responds to a question comparing his fight to be promoted to the story of Galileo
  • Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Ralph Gardner-Chavis talks about his relatives and friends
  • Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Ralph Gardner-Chavis talks about his propensity for the written word and his interest in music
  • Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Ralph Gardner-Chavis reflects on his career as a scientist and his accomplishments in the field of catalyst chemistry
  • Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Ralph Gardner-Chavis recites one of his poems
  • Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Ralph Gardner-Chavis responds to a question about the future of weapons of mass destruction
  • Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Ralph Gardner-Chavis describes his photographs
  • Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Ralph Gardner-Chavis describes his photographs