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Omowunmi Sadik

Professor, chemist, and inventor Omowunmi “Wunmi” A. Sadik was born in 1964 in Lagos, Nigeria. Growing up in Nigeria, Sadik was introduced to science by her father, who was a pharmaceutical technician. There were three physicians, one civil engineer, and two nurse practitioners in her family as well. In high school, Sadik was interested in physics, chemistry, and biology. She graduated from the University of Lagos in Nigeria with her B.S. degree in chemistry in 1985 and her M.S. degree in chemistry in 1987. Sadik received her Ph.D. degree in chemistry in 1994 at Wollongong University in Australia. She was awarded a postdoctoral fellowship from the National Research Council (NRC) from 1994 to 1996 to conduct research at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

In 1996, Sadik was appointed as an assistant professor of chemistry at the State University of New York (SUNY) at Binghamton. From 2000 to 2003, Sadik held visiting appointments at the Naval Research Laboratories, Cornell University, and Harvard University. In 2002, she was promoted to associate professor of chemistry at SUNY-Binghamton; and, in 2005, Sadik became a full professor and was appointed director of SUNY-Binghamton’s Center for Advanced Sensors & Environmental Systems (CASE). Sadik’s research interests are in surface chemistry with a focus on sensors, environmental chemistry and conducting polymers. She has co-authored over 135 peer-reviewed research papers and patent applications, has given 121 keynote and invited lectures, as well as contributed 178 conference lectures, posters, symposia and workshops. Sadik was awarded four U.S. patents for her work on biosensors.

In 2011, Sadik chaired the inaugural “Gordon Conference on Environmental Nanotechnology.” She was appointed to the National Institutes of Health Study Panel on Instrumentation and Systems Development, and has made contributions to scientific and government organizations such as the Environmental Protection Agency, American Chemical Society and National Science Foundation. Sadik has received over $5 million in funding and contracts both from the private sector and government agencies. In 2012, Sadik co-founded the Sustainable Nanotechnology Organization (SNO), a non-profit, international professional society dedicated to advancing sustainable nanotechnology around the world through education, research, and promotion of responsible growth of nanotechnology.

Sadik has been awarded Harvard University’s Distinguished Radcliffe Fellowship, the NSF Discovery Corps Senior Fellowship, the State University of New York Chancellor’s Award for Research, the Australian Merit Award, the SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Outstanding Inventor, and National Research Council (NRC) COBASE fellowship. Sadik was elected as a fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry in 2010 and of the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering (AIMBE) in 2012.

Professor, chemist and an inventor Omowunmi “Wunmi” A. Sadik was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on July 10, 2013.

Accession Number

A2013.175

Sex

Female

Interview Date

7/10/2013

Last Name

Sadik

Maker Category
Occupation
Schools

University of Wollonong

University of Lagos

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Omowunmi

Birth City, State, Country

Lagos

HM ID

SAD01

Favorite Season

Fall

Favorite Vacation Destination

None

Favorite Quote

None

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

New York

Birth Date

6/19/1964

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Binghamton

Country

Nigeria

Favorite Food

Rice (Jollof)

Short Description

Chemistry professor Omowunmi Sadik (1964 - ) was director of the Center for Advanced Sensors & Environmental Systems (CASE) at the State University of New York at Binghamton. She was also elected as a fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry and the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering (AIMBE).

Employment

State University of New York at Binghamton

Harvard University Radcliffe Institute

Cornell University

Favorite Color

Mint

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Omowunmi Sadik's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Omowunmi Sadik lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Omowunmi Sadik describes her mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Omowunmi Sadik discusses the oral history traditions of the Yoruba people of Nigeria

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Omowunmi Sadik talks about the preservation of the traditions of the Yoruba people of Nigeria

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Omowunmi Sadik talks about her father's training as a pharmaceutical technologist

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Omowunmi Sadik describes her father's family background

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Omowunmi Sadik talks about the Yoruba Civil War, the Egba people, and the history of the establishment of the city of Abeokuta

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Omowunmi Sadik talks about her father's career as a pharmacist and a businessman

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Omowunmi Sadik talks about her grandmother's store in Lagos

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Omowunmi Sadik speculates upon how her parents met

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Omowunmi Sadik describes her likeness to her parents

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Omowunmi Sadik talks about her siblings and their occupations

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Omowunmi Sadik describes her earliest childhood memory

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Omowunmi Sadik describes her early interest in African history

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Omowunmi Sadik describes the sights, sounds and smells of growing up in Lagos, Nigeria

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Omowunmi Sadik talks about her father's practice of Islam, and her experience in elementary school in Lagos, Nigeria

Tape: 2 Story: 11 - Omowunmi Sadik talks about Nigeria's independence in 1960, the Biafran War, and the city of Lagos

Tape: 2 Story: 12 - Omowunmi Sadik talks about her father reaching her science and math in grade school

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Omowunmi Sadik talks about the value of education in the Nigerian community, and her family's education in Europe in the 1970s and 1980s

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Omowunmi Sadik talks about attending high school at a boarding school in Abeokuta, Nigeria

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Omowunmi Sadik reflects about religious harmony in Nigeria and the spread of Christianity and Islam

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Omowunmi Sadik describes her experience in high school in Abeokuta, Nigeria

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Omowunmi Sadik describes her decision to attend the University of Lagos for her undergraduate studies

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Omowunmi Sadik describes her decision to major in chemistry at the University of Lagos

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Omowunmi Sadik describes how she convinced her mother that she could find a job as a chemist

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Omowunmi Sadik talks about her interest in organic chemistry

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Omowunmi Sadik describes her experience at the University of Lagos

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Omowunmi Sadik reflects upon her experience as a woman in science in Nigeria

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Omowunmi Sadik describes her interest in analytical chemistry at the University of Lagos

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Omowunmi Sadik describes her social life at the University of Lagos

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Omowunmi Sadik talks about the Nigerian environmentalist, Ken Saro-Wiwa, and the environmental and the political scene in Nigeria in the 1980s

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Omowunmi Sadik describes her master's degree research on determining the level of heavy metals in Nigerian fruits and vegetables

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Omowunmi Sadik describes her decision to pursue a Ph.D. degree at the University of Wollongong in Australia - part one

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Omowunmi Sadik describes her decision to pursue a Ph.D. degree at the University of Wollongong in Australia - part two

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Omowunmi Sadik talks about her interest in conducting polymers, their applications, and going to the University of Wollongong

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Omowunmi Sadik describes her Ph.D. dissertation research on conducting polymers

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Omowunmi Sadik talks about her family, her decision to pursue her Ph.D. degree in Australia, and the international community there

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Omowunmi Sadik talks about receiving a postdoctoral fellowship at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Omowunmi Sadik talks about her initial impression of Las Vegas, Nevada

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Omowunmi Sadik talks about her work with environmental sensors at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Omowunmi Sadik describes environmental sensor systems, and their applications as bio-sensors for pain

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Omowunmi Sadik describes her decision to join the faculty at the State University of New York (SUNY) at Binghamton

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Omowunmi Sadik talks about her research with sensors at the State University of New York (SUNY) at Binghamton

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Omowunmi Sadik talks about her research with sensors for nanoparticles

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Omowunmi Sadik talks about the applications of conducting polymers in chromium detoxification and water purification

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Omowunmi Sadik talks about funding for her research, and training of undergraduate and graduate students

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Omowunmi Sadik talks about the demographics of her research group, and her involvement in service at SUNY Binghamton

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Omowunmi Sadik talks about her patents

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Omowunmi Sadik talks about serving as a visiting research scientist at the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Omowunmi Sadik talks about becoming tenured at the State University of New York (SUNY) Binghamton

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Omowunmi Sadik talks about the electronic nose technology

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Omowunmi Sadik talks about her work with HIV sensors

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Omowunmi Sadik talks about being elected as a fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry in 2010

Tape: 6 Story: 10 - Omowunmi Sadik talks about her interest in academic research

Tape: 6 Story: 11 - Omowunmi Sadik talks about her research on pain biosensors and sensors for nanoparticles

Tape: 6 Story: 12 - Omowunmi Sadik talks about the students whom she has mentored, and the impact of the African professional community

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Omowunmi Sadik describes an example of her role as a mentor

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Omowunmi Sadik talks about her collaborators and the funding strategy for the Center for Advanced Sensor Research and Environmental Systems (CASE)

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Omowunmi Sadik reflects upon her legacy

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Omowunmi Sadik describes her hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Omowunmi Sadik talks about her family

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Omowunmi Sadik talks about how she would like to be remembered

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Omowunmi Sadik describes her photographs

DASession

1$1

DATape

3$5

DAStory

4$8

DATitle
Omowunmi Sadik describes her experience in high school in Abeokuta, Nigeria
Omowunmi Sadik talks about her research with sensors for nanoparticles
Transcript
So you're in a Baptist school in Abeokuta [Ogun State, Nigeria]. And--$$Abeokuta.$$--so, now, is this, now, in high school, is this where you have to kind of choose a path--$$Yes.$$--you're gonna take, whether it's gonna be in literary arts or--$$That's right.$$--in science, hard science, right?$$Yes, that's what you do. So the first three years, you take all the subjects, you know, civics, social studies, geography, history, English, math. You take Yoruba, the English literature, economics. But when you get to, towards the end of your third year, you now start taking the, you know, the solid science. You're doing physics, chemistry. You're taking calculus, ad [advanced] maths [mathematics] and things like that. When you get to the fourth year, you're separated. So you separate into A, B and C. A, being the sciences, B, being the arts, and C being the commerce, the commercial. So we do A, B and C. So if you get to be in form 4-A, so you're getting towards the scientific part of it. So you're getting prepared for the West African School Certificate. And so you take that in the fifth year, but they start preparing you from the fourth year. You start going to the labs. You're taking biological sciences, earth sciences. So you do labs. So you're now separating. You can still take some arts subject if you like. Like I took history even though I was in the science, I still like the--I did History 12, or geography, the English literature. We learned so many of Wole Soyinka's [Nigerian playwright and poet] and Chenua Achebe's [Nigerian novelist, poet, professor and critic], many of the literature, many of their (unclear), the plays that they have written.$$Okay, so at this level in high school, were there any major mentors or teachers that you remember that really helped?$$Yes, in high school, yes. I remember one history teacher who also taught us literature, Mr. Sanya Olu. That was his name.$$How do you--Mr.--$$Sanya, S-A-N-Y-A, Olu, O-L-U.$$Okay.$$And he was a great teacher. We just, I just liked the way he taught and I remember one day, once they gave us the textbook at the beginning of the semester, I just read it. I really, I read it. I just finish it before we even get to it in the class because that was the only thing I could, you know, I didn't--I like to read everything. And I didn't have a lot of books, so other than going to the library, any book that's given to me, I just keep reading. So I read it. And he came to class and was gonna introduce his subject. I can't remember exactly what the subject was, and I--he asked a question, and I gave the answer. It must have been a very, I don't know how profound the answer I gave. (laughter) But he gave me a copy of the book, and he signed it. And he said, you are university material. I remember he, him saying that to me, that you are a college material. You're gonna go to university. And at that time, I had, I wasn't even thinking about that.$$Okay, all right. Even though there were older brothers and sisters going into--$$They were doing it, yeah, to go to nursing school, you do it, you probably go to nursing school (unclear). My brother went to university, we were still both young--.$$So that's not as high--it's not, that's not like going to university?$$No, no.$$Okay, all right, I hear you. Okay, so Mr. Olu, you know, inspired you. Now, did you, when you were studying the history, did you talk about some of the scientific discoveries in West Africa back in the day?$$Not at all. My science background, I just liked the--I remember my first time in the chemistry lab was, I can't remember the instructor's name. But he was teaching us, he was showing all the different glass wares, like the condensers, the Libby condensers, and we were drawing--I was just so very interested in it. And I went to physics class, and we did the light travels in a straight line. And because I was in boarding school, I got back to school to the hostel, we call it, and I was trying to actually set up this experiment on my own. In boarding school, we start prep class at eight o'clock after dinner. And we have to keep studying until ten o'clock. And so I stood there, I sat there--most of the kids were already sleeping, they're tired. But I had a candle, we write with (unclear) candles and lanterns. So I had the candle lit on one end, and I had two cardboards with holes made in it. And I was trying to see the light traveling through that cardboard. And I was so busy doing it, and I had my head on the other side. I didn't know that the school principal was behind me and watching me. (laughter) And as soon as I saw him, I tried to, you know, turn everything off. And he said, no, no, keep, keep, you know, keep doing it. You're fine. (Laughter) You know, because you're not allowed to, you know, do anything other than the ordinary. But I just wanted to see how it happens. So--$$So were you able to see it?$$Yes, oh, yes, I did. I would always study things on myself. I would look for things to make it out of my own, you know, anything I can find.$$Okay, so you were confirming what you were learning in school?$$What I was learning in school, yeah.$$Okay, all right.$Now, what is a nano particle for the uninitiated (laughter)? A small--$$Yeah, you know, one-billionth of a meter. So it's really tiny.$$It can only be detected through instrumentation, right?$$Yes, so you have to use highly, high resolution, scanning electron micrographs or transmission electron micrograph to be able to see that.$$Okay, and what is the danger of nano particles in your clothing (laughter)?$$Now, we can actually buy nano particles, nano silver-impregnated socks and consumer products because some of these particles are believed to have anti-microbial properties. And so the issue then would be they kill the bacteria, and you take many of the socks, and you wash them off or you, you know, dispose of the consumer products anyhow, there might be some unintended consequences of exposure to the nano particles. And so now, we're trying to understand the possible transformation of the particles, starting from the time they were made to the time they--the lifetime, the whole life cycle of the particles in the environment and back to the grave, what we call the "cradle to grave," you know, starting from the product to the time it's disposed of by the user.$$Okay, all right, so that--and the socks models are a good example of nano particles in your--$$That's right.$$--in clothing.$$Yep, they're used now in many ways. The nano particles are gonna be part of the future. They, you have nano particles in consumer products, in food packaging because they preserve the food. They kill the bacteria. They're, you know, they have nano particles in toothpaste, many of the cosmetics, and personal products that we use at home. So they're gonna be ubiquitous in a few years. And so we're trying to understand the chemistry, the transfor--the changes that would happen. And if they dissolve, what do they form, and whatever is formed, what is the relationship, the reaction of the product resulting from the dissolution with the human body and the environment? We need to understand that. Typically, we wait and play catch up. We wait until things are produced in massive quantities, and they're now being sold, but we want to be able to preempt that by understanding upfront, you know, what the fate and the transportation and the transport and the mechanism of transformation of the particles in the environment and the human body.$$Okay, what else are you doing?$$The nano particles?$$What's the most exciting--is the nano particle sensing the most exciting thing you're doing now?$$Right now, we're doing, we're developing sensors for nano particles, we're making--again, conducting polymers in form of membranes that can used to trap or filter them. So membranes--we just finished some research with Harvard School of Medicine [Cambridge, Massachusetts], where our membranes were being linked, combined with their (unclear) so that you know, we have aerosols of (unclear) or aerosols of ion particles trapped on our membranes. And then the membrane because they're conducting and also electro-active, they can serve as sensors. And so we're using the sensors to serve as filters as well as--the membrane to filter the particles as well as to sense them. So we're linking our work with Harvard. Our work is just coming out, our publication.

Bertram Fraser-Reid

Chemist and chemistry professor Bertram Oliver Fraser-Reid was born on February 23, 1934 in Coleyville, Jamaica. In 1956, Fraser-Reid enrolled at Queen’s University in Canada and graduated from there with his B.Sc. and M.Sc. degrees in chemistry in 1959 and 1961, respectively. He went on to earn his Ph.D. degree in chemistry from the University of Alberta in 1964 under the supervision of Dr. Raymond Lemieux. Upon graduation, Fraser-Reid was awarded a postdoctoral fellowship at Imperial College of the University of London and studied under Nobel Laureate Sir Derek Barton from 1964 to 1966.

From 1966 to 1980, Fraser-Reid served on faculty of the University of Waterloo in Waterloo, Ontario where he established a research group known as “Fraser-Reid's Rowdies.” His work at the University of Waterloo emphasized the synthesis of chiral natural products, such as insect pheromones, could be made using carbohydrates as the starting materials instead of petroleum products. In 1980, Fraser-Reid briefly taught chemistry at the University of Maryland, College Park before he was hired by Duke University in Durham, North Carolina in 1982. In 1985, Fraser-Reid was named James B. Duke Professor of Chemistry. He later found the Natural Products and Glycotechnology Research Institute in Durham, North Carolina where he oversaw research to develop carbohydrate-based vaccines to fight malaria and tuberculosis.

Fraser-Reid received the Merck, Sharp & Dohme Award in 1977 from the Chemical Institute of Canada, and he was honored with the Claude S. Hudson Award in 1989 from the American Chemical Society. Fraser-Reid was nominated for the Nobel Prize in chemistry in 1998, and he was recognized as the Senior Distinguished U.S. Scientist by West Germany’s Alexander von Humboldt Foundation in 1990. In 1991, Fraser-Reid was elected as a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and received the Percy L. Julian Award from the National Organization of Black Chemists and Chemical Engineers. The American Institute of Chemistry named him the North Carolina Chemist of the Year in 1995. In addition, the Royal Society of Chemistry bestowed upon him the Haworth Memorial Medal and Lectureship, the Japanese Society for the Promotion of Science elected him as a Fellow, and the Institute of Jamaica honored him with the Musgrave Gold Medal.

Bertram Oliver Fraser-Reid was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on May 6, 2013.

Accession Number

A2013.106

Sex

Male

Interview Date

5/6/2013

Last Name

Fraser-Reid

Marital Status

Married

Middle Name

Oliver

Schools

Imperial College, University of London

Queen's University

University of Alberta

Bryce Elementary School

Clarendon College

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Bertram

Birth City, State, Country

Coleyville

HM ID

FRA10

Favorite Season

Fall

Favorite Vacation Destination

Anywhere New

Favorite Quote

One day at a time.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

North Carolina

Birth Date

2/23/1934

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Pittsboro

Country

Jamaica

Favorite Food

Cake (Chocolate)

Short Description

Chemist and chemistry professor Bertram Fraser-Reid (1934 - ) is a well-respected scientist whose research in carbohydrate chemistry has led to significant advances in many diverse fields.

Employment

University of Waterloo

Duke University

University of Maryland, College Park

NPG Research Institute

Favorite Color

Blue

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Bertram Fraser-Reid's interview - part one

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Slating of Bertram Fraser-Reid's interview - part two

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Bertram Fraser-Reid lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Bertram Fraser-Reid describes his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Bertram Fraser-Reid talks about his mother and his step-mother, and how his parents met

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Bertram Fraser-Reid describes his father's family background

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Bertram Fraser-Reid talks about his father's education and his interest in music

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Bertram Fraser-Reid talks about the early relationship between school and church in Brice, Jamaica

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Bertram Fraser-Reid talks about the school where his father was a head teacher and describes the Jamaican education system

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Bertram Fraser-Reid talks about his father's personality, and his first experiment in chemistry

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Bertram Fraser-Reid talks about his siblings and his likeness to his father

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Bertram Fraser-Reid describes his earliest childhood memory

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Bertram Fraser-Reid describes the sights, sounds and smells of growing up in Jamaica

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Bertram Fraser-Reid talks about the landscape of the island of Jamaica

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Bertram Fraser-Reid talks about attending school in Brice, Jamaica and going to boarding school in Kingston, Jamaica

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Bertram Fraser-Reid talks about his father's emphasis on his education and learning

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Bertram Fraser-Reid describes his experience in high school in Kingston, Jamaica

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Bertram Fraser-Reid describes his experience in high school at the foothills of Bullhead Mountain, Jamaica

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Bertram Fraser-Reid describes his decision to pursue his studies in chemistry

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Bertram Fraser-Reid talks about his poor preparation in the sciences in high school

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Bertram Fraser-Reid describes the influence of his friends' mother, Mrs. Jackson, in his pursuit of higher education in Canada

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Bertram Fraser-Reid describes his decision to attend Queens University in Canada

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Bertram Fraser-Reid talks about his choice to study in Canada over the United States

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Bertram Fraser-Reid describes his experience at Queens University in Canada

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Bertram Fraser-Reid talks about taking his first physics exams while he was in college

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Bertram Fraser-Reid talks about working with chemist J.K.N. Jones at Queens University as an undergraduate student

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Bertram Fraser-Reid talks about the history of sugar production, slavery, and his introduction to sugar chemistry in the 1950s

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Bertram Fraser-Reid talks about his mentors at Queens University

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Bertram Fraser-Reid talks about attending the University of Alberta to pursue his doctoral degree with Professor Raymond Lemieux

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Bertram Fraser-Reid describes his doctoral dissertation research in sugar chemistry

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Bertram Fraser-Reid talks about his postdoctoral advisor, Sir Derek Barton at Imperial College in London

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Bertram Fraser-Reid talks about how he met his wife

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Bertram Fraser-Reid describes his research in interest pheromone chemistry - part one

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Bertram Fraser-Reid describes the concept of optical isomers of sugars

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Bertram Fraser-Reid talks about the application of sugar chemistry to pheromone synthesis

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Bertram Fraser-Reid describes his decision to accept a position at the University of Maryland in 1980

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Bertram Fraser-Reid talks about the strengths of the undergraduate program in chemistry at the University of Waterloo in Canada

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Bertram Fraser-Reid talks about his experience at the University of Maryland and his decision to accept a position at Duke University in 1982

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Bertram Fraser-Reid talks about developing a novel method to link simple sugars into oligosaccharides, and its potential applications

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Bertram Fraser-Reid reflects upon being nominated for the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1988

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Bertram Fraser-Reid talks about playing the organ internationally, while traveling for conferences

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Bertram Fraser-Reid describes his research interest in RNA synthesis

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Bertram Fraser-Reid talks about the funding that he has received for his work on RNA synthesis

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Bertram Fraser-Reid talks about his former interest in applying carbohydrate chemistry to find a cure for AIDS

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Bertram Fraser-Reid reflects upon his legacy - part one

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Bertram Fraser-Reid reflects upon his legacy - part two

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Bertram Fraser-Reid talks about receiving the Percy Julian Award from the NOBCChe in 1991

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Bertram Fraser-Reid describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community today

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Bertram Fraser-Reid talks about his family

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Bertram Fraser-Reid talks about how he would like to be remembered

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Bertram Fraser-Reid describes his photographs - part one

Tape: 8 Story: 1 - Bertram Fraser-Reid describes his photographs - part two

DASession

1$1

DATape

4$5

DAStory

2$3

DATitle
Bertram Fraser-Reid talks about taking his first physics exams while he was in college
Bertram Fraser-Reid describes his research in interest pheromone chemistry - part one
Transcript
But I learned a lot because some parts of chemistry involve a lot of physics. And I mention that only because I think this is one of the most interesting things that came up. I was due to graduate in May, and in February, the registrar called me in to come to see her. And she says, you haven't taken any physics since you're here at Queens. I said, that's right, Ms. Royce. And she went on to say, and there is no physics on your record at Clarendon College in Jamaica. I said, no, we didn't have any physics teachers. She says, oh, I don't know what to say because we can't allow you to graduate without any physics. And then I fell right to the floor. And then she lifted me immediately and said, why don't you go over to the high school, speak to Mr. Earl, and ask him if you can take the physics exam with his students. I went to him, and he was a very, very nice man and said, oh, that would be fine with me. You can do that. But I don't know when you would study for it because you, your last exams are whatever. And the exams for physics is two weeks later. So how can you do that? And I said, I'm gonna do it, sir, because I had to study so much physics on my own to understand the chemistry because there's physical chemistry, and there's organic chemistry, and there's ana--and so you have to be able to know what this is. And one of my dearest buddies--he just passed away, gave me his book because he had used it in the first year, and I still have it (laughter), still have Barry's physics book. And--$$So you studied Barron physics--(simultaneous)$$No, my friend, I'm sorry, my friend was, his name was Barry.$$Okay.$$And he was from Trinidad. And he, so he said, here, I'm not gonna use this again. He was studying geology. So he gave it to me (laughter), gave me his physics book. And I looked at what--and discovered that really the chemistry I had been studying in physical chemistry, just has physics married to it, so to speak. So all you need to do to master physics for the high school chemistry is to divorce the two subjects. And so I went and he gave me some back exams, Mr. Earl, the teacher at the school. And I could solve them by just looking at the physics I knew. And I got an A in it.$$That's very good.$$Yeah.$And now, in '66' [1966], you returned to Canada to the University of Waterloo?$$'66 [1966], not '56 [1956].$$'66 [1966], yeah, '66 [1966].$$Yeah.$$Near Toronto [Canada], right?$$That's right.$$And you continued, then you got back on the sugar chemistry research?$$Right.$$Now, what--now, I have here that you were determined that sugar could be used to create many carbon-based chemicals, medicines, plastics and paints. And is this, now, this sounds like George Washington Carver [pioneering African American scientist] almost with the peanut. I mean you, so all these things could be created with sugar?$$I don't know about paint, I don't know about paint.$$Okay, I'll scratch that one out.$$But because of my training with [Raymond] Lemieux, I saw that these could be used for compounds which themselves are not sugar. Typically, the synthetic work that was done in sugar which is, you know, such a great source of material. You know, you have starch. That's a sugar. You have glucose. These are easily obtainable sugars. But most of the work that was going on was taking one sugar and making another. Now, part of that is because of the repertoire of chemicals that we had. Sugars are very easily abused, so, you know, they burn, as you know. So you can't use reagents on them that are too strong. And I was fortunate to come in at a time when the reagents that you could use on sugar were now available much more readily. Well, we were in Canada, University of Waterloo and I remember this so clearly. We, one of our seminar speakers had come from the Canadian insect control, whatever. And Canada had a big problem at the time with beetles eating the lumber. And the cost to Canada was in the billion dollar range. Okay, well, I asked, well, we asked this guy to come and give us some lectures on how the insect, the insect damage to the trees, how bad is it? And he introduced me to then practice, developing practice, particularly in Alabama, to try to fight insects by using insect pheromones. And he said, well, we have pheromones of the beetles that do it, and I said, what does it look like? And so he drew up on my blackboard in my office a structure, and I said, boy, that doesn't look--I'm not familiar with that type of structure. And he said, well, if you think about it, let me know because he has to go to speak with another professor. Well, he left the thing on my board, and I then took it and built a model of it. Do you know what I mean? A chemical model, you know?$$Explain it.$$Well, most of the time when you look, if I--normally, the molecules as they're drawn on the blackboard are only drawn in two dimensions. But the molecules are in three dimensions. So I, with these models, you can make it in three dimensions, and so it's totally different from what you're seeing on the board. I turned it around. I said, oh, my goodness. This is so and so and so and so. And I decided that, you know, this may be an interesting thing to synthesize. And I applied to the Canadian Research Council for, I remember it was only 68-, $68,000 for a student and me to try to synthesize this. And we did, and there's a picture of Brian up there, and me, plotting the synthesis of this compound. And so that, we did synthesize some of them, and it was published in the British newspapers. And so everybody became aware of our ability to synthesize insect pheromones, frontalin, various insects pheromones from various insects from sugars. And the one that is from Alabama-(unclear) I can't remember. But the use of it really killed a lot of this, the beetle, the pests that used to affect the cotton, the boll weevil. The boll weevil, was one of the things [pheromones] that we were trying to make. I don't think I mentioned that. But that was one of the first ones that we, you know, got interests in.

William Davis

Research chemist and chemistry professor William C. Davis was born on August 22, 1926 in Waycross Georgia to parents Kenice and Laura Jane Davis. In 1941, Davis moved to New York City to live with his brother, Ossie Davis, and attend college. Following graduation from Dwight High School in 1945, Davis attended City College of New York and New York University before enrolling at Talladega College in Florida. Davis left school and briefly served as second lieutenant of engineers in the Korean War. Returning to Talladega College after the War, Davis earned his B.S. degree in chemistry in 1956. Davis went on to earn his M.S. degree in organic chemistry from Tuskegee Institute in 1958 and his Ph.D. degree in biochemistry from the University of Idaho in 1965.

Upon graduation, Davis was appointed research director at Physicians Medical Laboratories. As director, Davis is credited with discoveries leading to or improving numerous amenities, among them the potato chip, the instant mashed potato, soft serve ice cream, and the organic glue that holds together wood-chip and particle board. Davis’ research has been public in academic journals such as, Journal of Medical Technology and European Journal of Pharmacology. From 1974 to 1975, Davis continued research as a visiting scientist at the George Hyman Research Institute in Washington, D.C.; and again between 1976 and 1982 when he was a research associate at the University of Texas Health Science Center. Davis was named full professor of chemistry at St. Philip's College in 1995. In addition he served as chair of the Natural Sciences Department and director of Renewable Energy. When Davis retired in August 2009, he was named professor emeritus of the natural science department; and, the science building at St. Philip's College was named in his honor.

Davis professional and academic affiliations include the American Chemical Society, the Health Physicist Society, the Society of Nuclear Medicine, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. His is a recipient of Tuskegee Institute’s George Washington Carver Fellowship, the U.S. Armed Force’s Purple Heart Medal, and was inducted to the Texas Hall of Fame in 2000.

Davis and his wife, Ocia, live in San Antonio, Texas. They have two children: Mark Alan and Cheryl Elise.

William C. Davis was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on February 1, 2013.

Accession Number

A2013.029

Sex

Male

Interview Date

1/30/2013 |and| 2/1/2013

Last Name

Davis

Maker Category
Marital Status

Divorced

Middle Name

Conan

Schools

Tuskegee University

Talladega College

City College of New York

Dwight High School, Manhattan

Dasher High School

Search Occupation Category
First Name

William

Birth City, State, Country

Waycross

HM ID

DAV28

Favorite Season

Fall

State

Georgia

Favorite Vacation Destination

Waycross, Georgia

Favorite Quote

You never could tell what thoughts and actions would do in bringing you hate or love. For thoughts of things will have wings and they will travel like a carrier dove. Each thing must creates it's kind as it travels over the track to bring back whatever is left out of your mind.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Texas

Birth Date

8/22/1926

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

San Antonio

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Rice, Chicken, Green Beans

Short Description

Chemist and chemistry professor William Davis (1926 - ) is professor emeritus of the natural science department at St. Philip's College.

Employment

St. Phillips College

Immutech, Inc.

University of Texas Health Science Center

College of Naturopathy

Warner Pacific College

United Medical Laboratories

University of Washington

Favorite Color

Brown

DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of William Davis' interview - part one

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - William Davis lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - William Davis talks about his mother's family background, part 1

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - William Davis talks about his mother's family background, part 2

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - William Davis talks about his mother's growing up

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - William Davis talks about his mother's interests and educational aspirations

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - William Davis talks about his father's family background - part one

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - William Davis talks about his father's family background - part two

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - William Davis talks about his father and his business relationship with Alex Sessoms

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - William Davis talks about his father's education and his grandfather's religious affiliation

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - William Davis talks about how his parents met

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - William Davis talks about his parents and his siblings

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - William Davis talks about his brother and his father's influence, part 1

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - William Davis talks about his brother and his father's influence, part 2

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - William Davis talks about his father's social beliefs

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - William Davis talks about his siblings

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - William Davis describes his earliest childhood memories

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - William Davis talks about his childhood home in Georgia and remembers his Ethiopian family's visits

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - William Davis describes the sights, sounds and smells of growing up

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - William Davis talks about his father's business and his attitude towards white people

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - William Davis talks about Fonza Curry's involvement in a plot to kill his father, Kince Davis - part one

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - William Davis talks about Fonza Curry's involvement in a plot to kill his father, Kince Davis - part two

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - William Davis talks about the schools that he and his siblings attended

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - William Davis talks about his grammar school teachers, music, and his principal

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - William Davis talks about his childhood fascination with his father's profession as an herbalist

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - William Davis talks about his favorite grade school teachers

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - William Davis talks about his performance in grade school

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - William Davis talks about why his high school ended at grade eleven

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - William Davis talks about visiting the Tuskegee Institute

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - William Davis talks about meeting George Washington Carver and his father's interests in plants

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - William Davis talks about his father's cars, Henry Ford, and traveling to Tuskegee, Alabama

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - William Davis talks about his science instruction at Dasher High School

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - William Davis talks about his decision to finish high school in New York and his brother, Ossie Davis' interest in the theatre

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - William Davis talks about his academics and his overall experience at Dwight High School

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - William Davis talks about his mentor, Jake Fishman, and his interest in the relationship between science, religion and philosophy

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - William Davis talks about his teachers at the City College of New York and his decision to transfer to Talladega College

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - William Davis talks about his experience at Talladega College and being drafted into the U.S. Army

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - William Davis talks about his interest in music, his appreciation of Albert Schweitzer, and his experience in Germany

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - William Davis talks about his experience in the U.S. Army and his interest in music

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - William Davis reflects on his experience at Talladega College

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - William Davis talks about his academics and his professors at Talladega College

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - William Davis talks about his mentor, Dr. Clarence T. Mason

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - William Davis talks about one of his peers' views on space colonization

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - William Davis talks about his research and his decision to continue his graduate studies in Idaho, part 1

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - William Davis talks about his research and his decision to continue his graduate studies in Idaho, part 2

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - William Davis talks about his journey from Alabama to Idaho

Tape: 8 Story: 1 - William Davis talks about traveling through Utah and his attempt to visit the Mormon Tabernacle

Tape: 8 Story: 2 - William Davis talks about his journey to Washington State University

Tape: 8 Story: 3 - William Davis talks about his experience in Idaho

Tape: 8 Story: 4 - William Davis talks about his research at Washington State University - part one

Tape: 8 Story: 5 - William Davis talks about his research at Washington State University - part two

Tape: 8 Story: 6 - William Davis talks about the research philosophy of scientists

Tape: 9 Story: 1 - Slating of William Davis' interview - part two

Tape: 9 Story: 2 - William Davis talks about the space colonization theory and Dr. Wernher von Braun

Tape: 9 Story: 3 - William Davis talks about meeting Albert Schweitzer and his interest in playing the organ

Tape: 9 Story: 4 - William Davis talks about his doctoral research on potatoes

Tape: 9 Story: 5 - William Davis talks about his clinical research at a mail-order laboratory with Dr. Roy M. Chatters

Tape: 9 Story: 6 - William Davis talks about how he became a health physicist and nuclear chemist

Tape: 9 Story: 7 - William Davis talks about his certification in medical technology and his publication on blood tests

Tape: 10 Story: 1 - William Davis talks about the controversy regarding the clinical research at United Medical Labs

Tape: 10 Story: 2 - William Davis talks about the establishment of the Albina Healthcare Center, and his work with the Black Panthers

Tape: 10 Story: 3 - William Davis talks about his professional activities - part one

Tape: 10 Story: 4 - William Davis talks about health care providers

Tape: 10 Story: 5 - William Davis talks about his professional activities - part two

Tape: 11 Story: 1 - William Davis talks about working with Dr. Lehman

Tape: 11 Story: 2 - William Davis talks about working with Dr. Lehman in the hospital setting

Tape: 11 Story: 3 - William Davis talks about his interest in teaching and how he was introduced to St. Philips College

Tape: 11 Story: 4 - William Davis talks about his research on the psychoactive drug, Valium

Tape: 11 Story: 5 - William Davis talks about his professional activities, part 3

Tape: 11 Story: 6 - William Davis talks about St. Philips College

Tape: 11 Story: 7 - William Davis talks about the demographics of St. Philips College

Tape: 12 Story: 1 - William Davis talks about the Penta Water Company

Tape: 12 Story: 2 - William Davis talks about the molecular theory and processing of the Penta Water

Tape: 12 Story: 3 - William Davis talks about the unique chemical properties of kinetic water

Tape: 12 Story: 4 - William Davis talks about presenting his research to the community

Tape: 12 Story: 5 - William Davis explains the processes of osmosis, osmotic pressure, and isotonicity

Tape: 12 Story: 6 - William Davis talks about the benefits of kinetic water and the tendencies of nature

Tape: 13 Story: 1 - William Davis talks about nature, and considers the implications of Hurricane Sandy not destroying churches

Tape: 13 Story: 2 - William Davis talks about having a building named in his honor at St. Philips College

Tape: 13 Story: 3 - William Davis describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 13 Story: 4 - William Davis reflects upon his legacy

Tape: 13 Story: 5 - William Davis talks about his family

Tape: 13 Story: 6 - William Davis reflects upon his life choices and talks about his musical interests

Tape: 13 Story: 7 - William Davis talks about how he would like to be remembered

Fillmore Freeman

Organic chemist and chemistry professor Fillmore Freeman was born in 1936 in Lexington, Mississippi. Freeman earned his high school diploma from John Marshall High School in Chicago, Illinois in 1953. In 1957, he graduated summa cum laude from Central State College in Wilberforce, Ohio, with his B.S. degree, and then went on to pursue his graduate studies at Michigan State University, where he received his Ph.D. degree in physical organic chemistry in 1962.

After a brief stint working with a private firm, Freeman served as a National Institutes of Health Fellow at Yale University in 1964. The following year, he became an assistant professor of at California State University at Long Beach. During this time, the school expanded its chemistry and biochemistry programs to accommodate the growing interest in these fields. In 1973, Freeman became a professor of chemistry at the University of California at Irvine, where he continued to work for the duration of his professional career. With his background in physical organic chemistry, Freeman has conducted research on a number of topics, including organic synthesis pathways and reactions, particularly those of cyclic compounds. His research has also relied heavily on the use of computational chemistry. In 1991, Freeman was the recipient of a grant from the National Institutes of Health to study the biochemical properties of allicin, a component of garlic chemistry. Freeman’s work has had a strong emphasis in isolating, researching and synthesizing compounds with anti-tumor and anti-viral properties.

Freeman has received much recognition for his work in the field of physical organic chemistry. He was named an Alexander von Humboldt Foundation Fellow and a Fulbright-Hayes Senior Research Fellow. He also had the opportunity to serve as a visiting professor at the Max Planck Institute of Biophysical Chemistry and the University of Paris. Author of numerous academic papers, Freeman was identified as the third most highly cited African American chemist in a 2002 report by Oklahoma State University.

Fillmore Freeman was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on April 29, 2011.

Accession Number

A2012.203

Sex

Male

Interview Date

11/27/2012

Last Name

Freeman

Marital Status

Divorced

Schools

John Marshall Metropolitan High School

Central State University

Michigan State University

Yale University

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Fillmore

Birth City, State, Country

Lexington

HM ID

FRE06

Favorite Season

None

State

Mississippi

Favorite Vacation Destination

Paris, France, Berlin, Germany, Spain

Favorite Quote

The time before memories.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

California

Birth Date

4/10/1936

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Los Angeles

Country

United States

Favorite Food

All Food

Short Description

Organic chemist and chemistry professor Fillmore Freeman (1936 - ) joined the faculty of California State University in 1973. He has conducted significant research in the field of physical organic chemistry, particularly in the synthesis and structural understanding of potential anti-tumor and anti-viral compounds.

Employment

University of California, Irvine

California State University, Long Beach

California Research Corporation

National Science Foundation (NSF)

Université de Paris VII

Institut de Chimie des Substances Naturelles

Max-Planck-Institut

Favorite Color

Blue, Earth Tones

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Fillmore Freeman's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Fillmore Freeman lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Fillmore Freeman describes his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Fillmore Freeman describes his father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Fillmore Freeman talks about segregation and slavery in Mississippi

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Fillmore Freeman talks about his paternal family owning land in Mississippi, and his father's role as a Baptist minister

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Fillmore Freeman talks about his father's training to become a Baptist minister

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Fillmore Freeman talks about his parents moving to Chicago, his mother's death, his father remarrying, and his four siblings

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Fillmore Freeman talks about the socio-economic dynamics of skin color in the African American community

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Fillmore Freeman lists his siblings

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Fillmore Freeman describes his earliest childhood memories

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Fillmore Freeman talks about moving to Chicago when he was five years old, and his early experience there

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Fillmore Freeman describes the sights, sounds and smells of growing up in Chicago

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Fillmore Freeman talks about the Chicago public school system, and the condition of the city's housing projects in the 1940s

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Fillmore Freeman describes his experience in Catholic school

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Fillmore Freeman talks about gang activity in Chicago in the 1940s

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Fillmore Freeman talks about leaving Chicago in 1953

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Fillmore Freeman talks about graduating from elementary school and attending high school

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Fillmore Freeman talks about attending his father's church as a child, and his perspective on religion

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Fillmore Freeman talks about his parents' employment in Chicago

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Fillmore Freeman talks about his jobs as a youngster in Chicago

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Fillmore Freeman describes his experience in high school

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Fillmore Freeman talks about Maxwell Street in Chicago

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Fillmore Freeman talks about playing basketball in high school

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Fillmore Freeman talks about his academic performance in high school and the pressures of life for African Americans who lived in the housing projects

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Fillmore Freeman describes his studies and his extracurricular activities in high school

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Fillmore Freeman describes his decision to attend Central State University, and his involvement in the ROTC Program

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Fillmore Freeman talks about his professors at Central State University

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Fillmore Freeman talks about Charles Wesley, HistoryMaker, Alice Windom, and segregation in Wilberforce and Xenia, Ohio in the 1950s

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Fillmore Freeman describes his decision to pursue a doctoral degree at Michigan State University

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Fillmore Freeman describes his Ph.D. dissertation on tetracyanocyclopropanes chemistry

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Fillmore Freeman talks about the interest in cyclopropane chemistry in the 1950s

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Fillmore Freeman describes being involved in a serious laboratory accident at Michigan State University

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Fillmore Freeman talks about his recovery from a serious laboratory accident in 1959 - part one

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Fillmore Freeman talks about meeting his wife in Chicago, and getting married in 1959

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Fillmore Freeman talks about his recovery from a serious laboratory accident in 1959 - part two

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Fillmore Freeman describes his decision to work at Standard Oil of California, and his experience there

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Fillmore Freeman describes his experience as a postdoctoral researcher at Yale University and his decision to work at California State University

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Fillmore Freeman talks about the lack of African American faculty and students at the University of California, Irvine

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Fillmore Freeman talks about his sabbatical at the University of Paris, and accepting a tenured position at the University of California, Irvine

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Fillmore Freeman describes his research on using chemical compounds to combat Chagas disease

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Fillmore Freeman talks about his involvement with NOBCChE

Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Fillmore Freeman describes his experience in Paris in 1972

Tape: 5 Story: 11 - Fillmore Freeman describes the university system in California

Tape: 5 Story: 12 - Fillmore Freeman talks about his early research in synthetic organic chemistry, screening chemical compounds against HIV, and his work on carbenes

Tape: 5 Story: 13 - Fillmore Freeman talks about his sabbatical at the University of Illinois, Chicago in 1976

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Fillmore Freeman talks about his experience on sabbatical at the University of Illinois at Chicago

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Fillmore Freeman describes his experience at the Max Planck Institute in Germany and at Institut de Chimie des Substances Naturelles in France

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Fillmore Freeman talks about the African American demographics at the University of California, Irvine

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Fillmore Freeman talks about serving as a visiting scientist and program director of organic and macromolecular chemistry at the NSF in 1989

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Fillmore Freeman describes his research in the area of organosulfur chemistry, and his collaboration with Professor Eloy Rodriguez

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Fillmore Freeman talks about the health benefits of garlic and its component compounds - part one

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Fillmore Freeman talks about the health benefits of garlic and its component compounds - part two

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Fillmore Freeman talks about his report on the properties of di-tert-butyl chromate in the Encyclopedia of Reagents for Organic Synthesis

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Fillmore Freeman talks about the dwindling number of African American faculty in chemistry departments across the United States

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Fillmore Freeman describes the field of computational chemistry, and its applications in medicine and in the pharmaceutical industry

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Fillmore Freeman shares his perspectives on the impact of computers on society and the future of physical organic chemistry

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Fillmore Freeman talks about his work to promote undergraduate chemistry research and his goals for the future

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Fillmore Freeman reflects upon his career and his legacy

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Fillmore Freeman talks about his family

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Fillmore Freeman talks about his hobbies

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Fillmore Freeman shares how he would like to be remembered

DASession

1$1

DATape

6$5

DAStory

5$4

DATitle
Fillmore Freeman describes his research in the area of organosulfur chemistry, and his collaboration with Professor Eloy Rodriguez
Fillmore Freeman describes his decision to work at Standard Oil of California, and his experience there
Transcript
So it seems in 1991, it seems you received a grant of $507,750 from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases to study tropical plants in Latin America and Africa that fight various fungal diseases, viruses and--$$Yeah, but that was in conjunction with Professor Eloy Rodriguez who was in the School of Bio [Biological] Science, so it was a joint grant.$$Okay, all right, and this is something. Did you have much experience with folk remedies growing up?$$No.$$Okay.$$Well, not experience, but I knew about them. I mean if you got sick in the old neighborhood, there's no such thing as going to a doctor. Everybody had some kind of folk remedy, many of which did not work, but that's all you could have.$$I just wondered if your family had any folk remedies, you know, that you remembered growing up?$$No, the medicine I remember most of all is Vicks VapoRub because of the way it smelled, and they'd rub it on your chest, and that's supposed to cure you when you got sick or have a cold. But that was an interesting collaboration. He's at Cornell [University, New York] now, but we inadvertently become, became sort of world experts in organosulfur chemistry. And when I was in Germany, they had some money left over. And they asked me did I want to go to a conference. And so I looked around, and in Yugoslavia, there was an organosulfur conference. And so I decided, hey, they want me to go so I will go. So I went to this conference which was on the Adriatic Sea. It's a place called Portoroz, and it's just like California. This was when Tito [President Marshal Tito] was still in power in Yugoslavia. But it was just capitalism. It was a tourist place. But it was, after being in Germany for that winter, it was so nice to get to this warm coast. And these sulfur chemists were arguing about a particular reaction intermediate called an alphadisulfoxide. So, you know, I just said, well, we'll just, we can just oxidize this and oxidize that because we know how to oxidize things. So everybody just laughed. So I came back to the [United] States after Germany. And there was a graduate student, Christos Angeletakis, a Greek fellow. And he wanted to do research with me. And we were looking for this elusive intermediate, the alphadisulfoxide. And one way to do that is to work at very low temperatures so you could (unclear) the rate of reactivity. And we were looking and we were looking. We couldn't get any spectroscopic evidence for it. But finally we did. So we became the first ones to identify or to build an alphadisulfoxide. And so we got into sulfur chemistry. Now, to get back to Professor Rodriguez, he's the big world's expert on plant chemists, chemistry. Now, there is this lady, Goodall, who studied the chimpanzee,--$$Yeah, Jane Goodall.$$You're right. Well, when she was studying some of these chimpanzees, she noted that they would eat leaves from a certain plant. They would just keep the leaves in their mouths. They wouldn't chew it. They'd spit it out. Some of them swallowed it. And so it turned out that some Canadian chemist was interested in this, Professor Rodriguez. And so they started isolating the chemical components of this particular plant. And it turns out that the significant component was some brilliant red compound. It had a six-membered ring and all kinds of things on the side. But in the six-membered ring, they had two sulfur atoms. So since we were thought to be world experts on organosulfur chemistry, and that's when I started collaborating with Professor Rodriguez. Again, all unplanned, but, you know, we've done a lot of sulfur chemistry.$Now, what did you do between '62 [1962] and '64 [1964]?$$I worked for Standard Oil of California. This is in the Bay Area [San Francisco, California], and it's a little--there's Berkeley and next to Berkeley is a little town called Richmond. And next to that, there's a bridge that goes from Richmond over to Marin County. And that's where the Standard Oil refinery was. At that time, Standard Oil had a lot of administrative offices over on Bush Street in San Francisco. And so I worked there for two years, and one of the reasons I went to work there was because they promised that we were gonna do basic research as opposed to industrial research. Well, there were about eleven of us in basic research. And that lasts for six months. After that, as with any big company, profits drive everything. And so we used to have these, what we called "dog and pony" shows where the people from Bush Street would come over, and we'd tell 'em what we're doing. And all they wanna know is how much money is that gonna make us. And so basically, during that two-year period, almost all of us had moved over, moved from basic research over to some industrial routine kind of work. And out of the eleven of us, nine of us left, and became professors somewhere in the United States because, again, we had wanted to do basic research. In industry, at that time, Standard Oil was one of the big people in the detergent industry because when they would crack petroleum to get these low molecular weight compounds, we all alkanes, and they could just put--and alkenes, and they could just put a sulfonate group on it. So you needed alkane, alkene that's nonpolar and a sulfonate group that's polar. So this is how you make suds and things. The non-polar part gets out the dirt and the oil and the polar part (unclear) solubility. But these things would not break down easily in the environment. Streams were getting blocked and plugged up, and so we were just looking for ways to improve making those, but also to make alternatives. So what you would do is to run a reaction and then you have to try all different concentrations. So it's routine, the same thing. Then you'd try different temperatures. Then you'd add, change one reagent, and so industrial chemistry is necessary from the profit motive. But intellectually, it's not very challenging. It's very routine. And so that's when I left to go back to Yale [University, New Haven, Connecticut] when I got a National Institutes of Health [NIH] post-doctoral fellowship.$$Okay, this is in 1964?$$Right.$$Okay, so this is a post-doc at Yale University in New Haven [Connecticut]. And--$$Now, the California Research Corporation eventually became the Chevron Research Corporation. And so--$$Oh, the California, I mean the Standard Oil?$$Right, the California Research Corporation was the research arm of Standard Oil.$$Okay.$$And so now it is the Chevron Research Corporation. And, of course, getting a job there was a big deal because growing up in Chicago [Illinois], I had always wanted to live in California. But that was also part of the big migration in the United States to the West. And there were not many jobs for chemists at that time. Shell had a facility at Emeryville which is north of San Francisco. And in Albany, California, there was a government lab. So basically, those three labs, California Research Corporation, Shell and the government lab were the only ones that were hiring people. So everybody was trying to get to the West Coast. And that's when I was in Detroit [Michigan]. I went from Lansing [Michigan] to Detroit. It was 13 [degree Fahrenheit] below [zero]. Got to San Francisco. This is in January on my interview trip. And they were having a heat wave. It was 88 degrees. Now, even since being a little kid, growing up in Chicago, I know I'm going to California. And that trip just solidified everything. There's no way I wanted to live back in the Midwest or where there was cold weather.

Billy Joe Evans

Chemist and chemistry professor Billy Joe Evans was born on August 18, 1942 in Macon, Georgia. Evans grew up amidst the racism and segregation policies of the south during the 1950s. Evans’ father, Will Evans, worked part-time as a coordinator for the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters and went to Washington, D.C. to confer and strategize with founder and President A. Philip Randolph about how labor issues facing African American in Macon. In 1959, he graduated from Ballard High School, the largest high school in Macon, Georgia. Following graduation, Evans entered Morehouse College and he received his B.S. degree in chemistry in 1963. Evans went on to pursue graduate studies at the University of Chicago. The State of Georgia paid the tuition difference between the University of Georgia and the University of Chicago, and in 1968 Evans earned his Ph.D. degree in chemistry. His Ph.D. thesis was entitled: “Order-disorder phenomena and hyperfine interactions in Spinel ferrites.”.

Evans accepted a position on the faculty of the University of Michigan in 1970 after performing some post-doctoral work at the University of Manitoba and teaching at Howard University. He has held research positions at the University of Marburg, the Naval Research Institute, and the Ford Motor Company. Evans initially started his work at the University of Michigan as an assistant professor of geology and mineralogy, but he joined the chemistry department as an associate professor in 1974. Evans has continued to pursue his research in solid state chemistry. His primary interests include the synthesis and characterization of crystal/chemical structures properties that directly affect the quality of human environments. His contributions to the firld were recognized by the University of Michigan who promoted him to full professor in 1986. Evans is the principal or co-author of more than 90 scientific publications. Evans is the principal or co-author of more than 90 scientific publications. He has been invited to give lectures at the National Conferences on Magnetism and Magnetic Materials, the International Conference on Magnetism, Gordon Conferences and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization Advanced Study Institute. Evans was named professor emeritus of the University of Michigan in 2007.

Evans has been the recipient of many honors and prizes for his dedication to the improvement of the quality and accessibility of higher education for all students and for his work in the sciences. In 1991, he was honored with the Statewide Distinguished Faculty Award. He received the 1997 American Chemical Society Camille and Henry Dreyfus Award for Encouraging Disadvantaged Students in Careers in the Chemical Sciences. Evans’ professional awards include the 1995 Manufacturing Chemists Association Catalysts Award, the 1997 American Chemical Society Camille and Henry Dreyfus Award for Encouraging Disadvantaged Students in Careers in the Chemical Sciences. The following year Evans was named the winner of the Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics, and Engineering by the National Science Foundation.

Billy Joe Evans was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on 10/22/2012.

Accession Number

A2012.177

Sex

Male

Interview Date

10/22/2012

Last Name

Evans

Marital Status

Married

Middle Name

Joe

Schools

George Washington Carver Elementary

Ballard Hudson High School

Morehouse College

University of California, Berkeley

Macalester College

University of Chicago

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Billy

Birth City, State, Country

Macon

HM ID

EVA06

Favorite Season

Fall

State

Georgia

Favorite Vacation Destination

Europe, Austria, Germany

Favorite Quote

Who Told You That?

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Michigan

Birth Date

8/18/1942

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Ann Arbor

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Banana Pudding

Short Description

Chemist and chemistry professor Billy Joe Evans (1942 - ) was the former director and professor in the Materials Science Department at Howard University and a professor emeritus of chemistry at the University of Michigan.

Employment

University of Michigan

Atlanta University

Howard University

University of Chicago

University of Manitoba

National Bureau of Standards (NBS)

Morehouse College

Favorite Color

Light Blue, Gray

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Billy Joe Evans' interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Billy Joe Evans lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Billy Joe Evans describes his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Billy Joe Evans describes his father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Billy Joe Evans talks about how his parents met

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Billy Joe Evans describes his parents' personalities and who he takes after

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Billy Joe Evans talks about his siblings (part 1)

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Billy Joe Evans talks about his mother's influence

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Billy Joe Evans talks about his siblings (part 2)

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Billy Joe Evans describes his earliest childhood memory

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Billy Joe Evans describes his childhood neighborhood

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Billy Joe Evans describes the sights, sounds and smells of his childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Billy Joe Evans talks about his involvement in the church growing up

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Billy Joe Evans talks about his elementary school experience

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Billy Joe Evans talks about his elementary school teachers

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Billy Joe Evans talks about his high school

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Billy Joe Evans talks about George Washington Carver

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Billy Joe Evans talks about his teachers at Ballard Hudson High School

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Billy Joe Evans talks about how he got into Morehouse College

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Billy Joe Evans talks about Morehouse College and Emmitt Till

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Billy Joe Evans talks about his math and science preparation for college

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Billy Joe Evans talks about his interests in the aeronautics field

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Billy Joe Evans talks about his role models and favorite teachers

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Billy Joe Evans talks about perceptions of African Americans in the medical field

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Billy Joe Evans talks about Hamilton Holmes

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Billy Joe Evans talks about his peers at Morehouse College

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Billy Joe Evans talks about the distinction between scientists and doctors

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Billy Joe Evans talks about Dr. Henry McBay

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Billy Joe Evans talks about the differences between Southerners and Northerners

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Billy Joe Evans talks about Dr. Henry McBay's teaching philosophy

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Billy Joe Evans talks about his experience in Chicago

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Billy Joe Evans talks about meeting his wife

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Billy Joe Evans talks about the State of Georgia's subsidization of black's education

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Billy Joe Evans talks about his research experience at the University of Chicago

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Billy Joe Evans talks about his near death experience in Chicago

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Billy Joe Evans talks about receiving his post-doctoral appointment at the University of Manitoba

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Billy Joe Evans describes his dissertation, "Order, Disorder and Hyperfine Interactions in Spinel Ferrites"

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Billy Joe Evans talks about his research on order/disorder in magnetic materials

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Billy Joe Evans talks about his experience at Howard University

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Billy Joe Evans talks about how he came to the University of Michigan

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Billy Joe Evans talks about Warren Henry

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Billy Joe Evans talks about his experience at the University of Michigan

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Billy Joe Evans talks about his grants and professional activities

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Billy Joe Evans talks about his career prospects after completing his graduate studies

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Billy Joe Evans talks about his experience at the Danforth Foundation

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Billy Joe Evans talks about his professional activities in Germany

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Billy Joe Evans talks about the Program of Scholarly Research for Urban/Minority High School Students

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Billy Joe Evans talks about the Comprehensive Studies Program and the Research Club at the University of Michigan

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Billy Joe Evans talks about his professional appointments with the AAAS and Atlanta University

Tape: 8 Story: 1 - Billy Joe Evans talks about his work at the University of Michigan

Tape: 8 Story: 2 - Billy Joe Evans talks about his consultancy appointments with the Dynamic Testing Division, DuPont Merck, and the Louisiana State Board of Regents

Tape: 8 Story: 3 - Billy Joe Evans talks about his consultancy appointment with the Inkster Michigan Public School System

Tape: 8 Story: 4 - Billy Joe Evans talks about his awards

Tape: 8 Story: 5 - Billy Joe Evans and Larry Crowe talk about Lloyd Ferguson

Tape: 8 Story: 6 - Billy Joe Evans talks about Dr. Henry McBay

Tape: 8 Story: 7 - Billy Joe Evans talks about his awards and professional activities

Tape: 8 Story: 8 - Billy Joe Evans reflects on his career

Tape: 8 Story: 9 - Billy Joe Evans reflects on his legacy

Tape: 8 Story: 10 - Billy Joe Evans talks about his hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 9 Story: 1 - Billy Joe Evans talks about his family

Tape: 9 Story: 2 - Billy Joe Evans reflects on how he would like to be remembered

Tape: 9 Story: 3 - Billy Joe Evans describes his photos

Tape: 10 Story: 1 - Billy Joe Evans describes his photos

DASession

1$1

DATape

6$7

DAStory

1$4

DATitle
Billy Joe Evans talks about his research on order/disorder in magnetic materials
Billy Joe Evans talks about the Program of Scholarly Research for Urban/Minority High School Students
Transcript
All right, University of Manitoba [Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada].$$Right.$$So your fellowship was carried out in the Department of Physics.$$Right.$$Okay, so yeah.$$But my, see when I was in Chicago [Illinois] I had already worked with physicists and I was in a low temperature laboratory which really is physics, almost totally physics. And my research was relevant to physics, not really to chemistry. So, and this fellow, his name was Morris, he had written one of the standard textbooks in magnetism and being a physicist he did not know as much chemistry as he knew he needed to know so the best way to solve that problem was to have a chemist come into the lab who also knew some physics. So I went into the lab specifically to help them solve a chemical problem they were having, which I was able to do. But in the meantime, we all, I also was able to do some of my own physics, again in order/disorder in magnetic materials.$$Well I was asked to ask you about what is meant by a permanent magnet?$$Right. We have different kinds of magnetism, all--there's something on this diamagnetism. Any material that contains electrons will have diamagnetism as one component of its properties. A material, doesn't matter what it is, gas, solid, liquid, if it has unpaired electrons, one, let's say a single electron, it will exhibit something known as paramagnetism. If you take a material that is paramagnetic that just has some electrons that are unpaired, you put it in a magnet, it will be attracted by the magnet, not very strongly but it will be attracted. Once you move the magnet away it remembers none of the magnetism. So with a paramagnet you can only tell what's going on with it when you put a mag, in the presence of a magnetic field. Then there are materials where you can have unpaired electron spans but they will be ordered so they all point up, they all point down or maybe one is up and one is down. And those configurations can be stable over long periods of time. But if they're all pointed up with moments, with electrons like that, they have a moment. They have a magnetic moment and that moment doesn't change. That's a permanent magnet. So there are some--and a permanent magnet can either be a metal or it can be an oxide so something known as alnico, aluminum nickel cobalt, that's an alloy that it's a, it's metal and most of the little dogs that you buy, the trick shops, they have Alnico magnets.$$(Unclear) of those, I mean they used to be popular in the 50s [1950s] these little Scotty dogs, I was hypnotized.$$That's exactly, that's right.$$I used to play with right with (unclear).$$One would--that's, I did the same thing. That's probably Alnico magnets. Then there are the class of magnets that are oxides and the most common one is something called a hexaferrite which occurs in nature. You can find them in Sweden, very complicated chemical compositions and complicated arrangements of atoms and so that would be a permanent magnet. So the refrigerator magnets, permanent magnets and they are made out of oxide materials that have been embedded in a plastic or a rubber material. And there's been virtually a revolution, no one knows about it but the starter motors on cars used to be very large and they had copper wiring on them. And the copper wire was used to create a magnetic field and then you could make the motor turn in that magnetic field. Well for about twenty years, they've been using permanent magnets, oxide magnets to create the magnetic field that you need in a starter motor. So now the starter motor is only about that big and that's because they're using these permanent magnets. They used to make them here in Michigan. Hitachi is a big manufacturer. General Electric used to make them but Hitachi bought the General Electric factory up near Michigan State and now Hitachi tends to dominate the market in these permanent magnets. But the door closers, the windshield wipers, they're all operated by these permanent magnet oxides so they're quite common in the environment. People are unaware of them but they are there.$$Okay, so instead of using the old magnets that we used to create in grade school with the dry cells when you wrap the--$$Yeah, right, right.$$--wire around (unclear).$$Right, right, right.$$They're using the permanent magnets now?$$You can now just use a permanent magnet for that, yeah.$Now in 1980 you were appointed director of the program of Scholarly Research for urban minority high school students.$$Right, right, right.$$And a lot of the people we've interviewed at some point get involved in STEM programs for high school students for youth.$$Right right.$$So how did this come about?$$Well actually I was the, I don't like this term but I'll use it, I started that program. What I noticed in my work here at [the University of] Michigan was that the black kids would come in and they would quickly degenerate to mediocrity in their work. And my assumption was that maybe they were not seeing the best kinds of things that one does here at the University of Michigan. So at that point I went over and we had a black associate vice president for academic affairs. His name was Richard English, was a social worker but he was one, a person that one could talk to. So I told English about my idea and that I wanted to try to do something. He supported me and the university allocated $15,000 for me to do this program. And initially we worked at one high school in Detroit [Michigan]. It was a selective high school but a small high school called Renaissance High. And so the first year the program was called the Renaissance High Project. We couldn't think of anything else and that really was what it was, a project at this one high school. And so the idea was to involve high school students in real research at the University of Michigan in the same way that we have graduate students. So I selected a group of faculty members who agreed to do this and the idea was that the students would come up in the summer but they would come every vacation that they had during their academic year, on weekends to continue their research. So instead of trying to do a research project in three summer months, we knew that was not enough time. You don't do research in that short a period of time. We would work over the entire academic year and so that's what we did. And there was a gifted administrator in Detroit, Beverly Thomas who was a music person but she understood what we were trying to do. She suggested as we were coming to the end of the summer phase of the program that we should have a symposium and the students would present their work. So I said okay we'll do that. And so the students worked all during the fall, during their Christmas vacation and oh, about the middle of January we would have a symposium. So the students gave ten-minute talks, they could only talk as long as we would talk in our professional meetings. And we worked with them all of the time for a month getting their talks together. And so the symposium came, we had it at Detroit at the Engineering Society a very scholarly technical setting. And without warning we knew nothing about it, Shapiro was in the back of the room. He was president of the university at that time. So he came in to see what we had done with his money and the students did fantastic. And when it was over Shapiro had allocated for the next year $150,000 for the program. So we went up by a factor of ten in funding and we continued that program for about fifteen years, fourteen or fifteen years and it was funded at that level for that period of time. We had about a three year period when the National Science Foundation funded us but we didn't like their money. They wanted to tell us what to do and we did not agree with them on that. They wanted us to have recreational activities and things like that for the students. We said no, our students will find out how to recreate themselves. The university is rich in those kinds of facilities and we're not going to spend our time worrying about that. But we did accept funding from them for three years and we didn't do it anymore. And I think we must have gotten about a half million dollars in funding from them. But the remarkable thing about that program was that during that period of time Detroit had more Westinghouse winners than they had had--the Westinghouse Science Talent Search had been going on for about since the 40s [1940s] I believe and in just this ten year period, Detroit had more winners in the Westinghouse than they had had for the previous forty years. And most of these kids, not all of them, most of these kids were black kids and most of the kids came from ordinary families. Their families were not professionals. One of the characteristics of the Westinghouse winners during that time was that the parents tended to be professionals, Ph.D.s, scientists themselves. But these were just ordinary kids. And so it showed what one could do with the general population just by doing those kinds of things at the university was already very good at doing. What's so distressing about that activity is that we--our last year of doing that program was 1994 and Detroit has not had a Westinghouse winner since. It's now called the Intel--Intel now does it but Intel and Westinghouse, that's the same project, same program. So, in what '94 [1994], that's about eighteen years so in eighteen years there has not been a single kid of any description from Detroit to be a Westinghouse winner, very distressing. And it says a little bit--and we still have the STEM programs. We probably have more STEM programs today than we had in 1981 or 1994. But it says something about what people are doing in these STEM programs.$$Okay.$$We should have more winners than we've had.

Daniel Akins

Physical chemist and chemistry professor Daniel Akins was born on July 8, 1941, in Miami, Florida, and graduated from Booker T. Washington High School in 1960. Akins earned his B.S. degree in chemistry from Howard University in 1963 where he was inducted into Sigma Xi honor society. He received his Ph.D. degree in physical chemistry from the University of California, Berkeley, in 1968 under the mentorship of Professor C. Bradley Moore.

After finishing his graduate education, Akins worked at Florida State University as both a postdoctoral researcher at the Institute for Molecular Biophysics and visiting assistant chemistry professor. In 1970, he became an assistant professor in the chemistry department at the University of South Florida and was promoted to associate professor in 1975. Between 1977 and 1979, Akins served as a visiting program director of the physical chemistry subsection of the dynamics program at the National Science Foundation (NSF). After a brief period as a senior scientist with the Polaroid Corporation, he began his career at The City College of New York as a professor of chemistry in 1981. In 1988, Akins founded and served as director of what would become in 2000 the CUNY Center for Analysis of Structures and Interfaces (CASI), which has the goal of training minority scientists in high-level scientific research. Eleven years after establishment of CASI, he was awarded an NSF Integrative Graduate Education and Research Traineeship (IGERT) grant. In 2008, Akins became the principal investigator for a $5 million NSF grant to establish a center for nanostructure applications known as CENSES (Center for Exploitation of Nanostructures in Sensors and Energy Systems). Throughout his career, he has published more than 130 research papers in leading scientific journals. His principal research focuses on the development of new nanomaterials for use in molecular photonic devices (MPDs), chemical sensors and fuel cells.

Akins is a member of several professional organizations, including the American Chemical Society, the Society for Applied Spectroscopy, and NOBCChE (National Organization for the Professional Advancement of Black Chemists and Chemical Engineers). Throughout his career, Akins has shown a continued commitment to increasing diversity in the sciences and has mentored many doctoral students. For his work, Daniel has been recognized many times, including being named a Sigma Xi Distinguished Lecturer and receiving the CCNY Faculty Service Award. In 2000, Akins received the Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics, and Engineering Mentoring (PAESMEM) from President Bill Clinton. Daniel Akins lives in Teaneck, New Jersey with his wife Sondra Akins. They have two children, Dana, a mechanical engineer, and Meredith, an actress and dancer.

Daniel Akins was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on May 14, 2012.

Accession Number

A2012.109

Sex

Male

Interview Date

5/15/2012

Last Name

Akins

Marital Status

Married

Schools

Douglass Primary School

Phillis Wheatley Elementary School

Booker T. Washington High School

University of California, Berkeley

Florida State University

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Daniel

Birth City, State, Country

Miami

HM ID

AKI03

Favorite Season

Spring

State

Florida

Favorite Vacation Destination

Miami, Florida

Favorite Quote

Never give up.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

New York

Birth Date

7/8/1941

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

New York

Country

United States

Favorite Food

All Food

Short Description

Chemist and chemistry professor Daniel Akins (1941 - ) , an expert on nanomaterial, is the director of the CUNY Center for Analysis of Structures and Interfaces.

Employment

City College of CUNY

Polaroid Corporation

National Science Foundation (NSF)

University of South Florida

Florida State University

Favorite Color

Blue

Timing Pairs
0,0:1452,35:7195,95:11700,882:15865,968:19350,1034:19775,1040:22495,1095:29338,1126:30374,1141:32520,1230:34000,1263:37404,1343:45014,1413:45758,1424:55841,1531:59564,1713:61827,1749:72990,1880:76188,1952:76516,1957:78238,2022:81764,2106:88919,2191:92584,2248:95840,2303:98128,2338:98480,2343:107741,2467:108434,2475:109358,2487:112669,2556:113131,2563:113824,2573:116672,2607:119432,2631:137560,2824:138757,2876:139270,2886:148800,2995:150120,3015:162052,3229:164161,3293:164389,3312:166470,3326$0,0:9494,131:10440,146:13106,193:16675,225:19570,230:20615,245:29819,340:30284,351:36904,412:37348,420:40826,498:41418,507:41788,525:44425,530:47760,579:51580,596:52705,610:64780,889:65380,898:71529,949:72026,958:72452,980:76925,1062:79698,1078:80210,1083:83986,1159:84242,1164:85202,1196:88382,1234:89566,1283:93044,1331:100783,1442:101784,1480:103940,1515:116574,1683:119566,1808:138096,1930:139360,1959:141493,2040:141967,2047:147610,2117:150165,2168:150457,2173:155172,2261:159216,2350:169240,2422:174627,2506:176571,2546:179001,2620:179325,2625:184900,2677:193790,2809:200835,2895:201660,2908:204135,2960:204885,2975:206385,3003:206760,3009:217760,3177:219720,3227:221050,3257:222870,3300:223640,3340:229830,3380:232600,3397
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Daniel Akins slates the interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Daniel Akins shares his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Daniel Akins talks about his mother's background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Daniel Akins talks about his grandparents

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Daniel Akins talks about his mother

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Daniel Akins talks about his father's background

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Daniel Akins talks about the church founded by his grandfather

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Daniel Akins talks about his grandparents

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Daniel Akins talks about how his parents met

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Daniel Akins talks about his father's military experience

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Daniel Akins talks about his grandmother

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Daniel Akins describes the similarities between him and his parents

Tape: 1 Story: 13 - Daniel Akins describes his neighborhood growing up

Tape: 1 Story: 14 - Daniel Akins talks about his brother and the church he grew up in

Tape: 1 Story: 15 - Daniel Akins talks about the sights, sounds, and smells of growing up

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Daniel Akins talks about growing up in Miami, Florida

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Daniel Akins talks about his hobbies

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Daniel Akins talks about what he learned about being an artist

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Daniel Akins talks about grade school

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Daniel Akins discusses the connection between art and mathematics

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Daniel Akins describes his personality

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Daniel Akins talks about race relations in Miami, Florida

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Daniel Akins talks about high school

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Daniel Akins talks about his extracurricular activities in high school

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Daniel Akins talks about his heroes

Tape: 2 Story: 11 - Daniel Akins describes his first interest in science

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Daniel Akins talks about why he chose to attend Howard University

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Daniel Akins talks about his high school science projects

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Daniel Akins talks about his transition to Howard University

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Daniel Akins talks about his studies at Howard University

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Daniel Akins talks about changing his major

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Daniel Akins talks about how he met his wife

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Daniel Akins talks about early computers

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Daniel Akins talks about black astronauts

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Daniel Akins talks about his mentors

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Daniel Akins describes his professors at the University of California

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Daniel Akins talks about graduate school

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Daniel Akins talks about his post-doctoral studies

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Daniel Akins describes the Free Speech Movement and race relations

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Daniel Akins describes his experience at the University of South Florida

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Daniel Akins talks about his experience working for the Polaroid Corporation

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Daniel Akins talks about working at CUNY

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Daniel Akins talks about his research at CUNY

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Daniel Akins talks about the challenges minorities face in academia

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Daniel Akins talks about one of his publications

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Daniel Akins talks about the number of minorities that pursuing doctorate degrees

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Daniel Akins talks about the program IGERT and its mentorship philosophy

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Daniel Akins talks about the practical uses of infinitesimal sensors

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Daniel Akins describes an average work day

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Daniel Akins talks about his work in research and science

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Daniel Akins talks about what he would do differently

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Daniel Akins talks about his goals for CUNY

Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Daniel Akins talks about his legacy

Tape: 5 Story: 11 - Daniel Akins talks about his concerns for the African American community

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Daniel Akins talks about his love for tennis

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Daniel Akins talks about his family

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Daniel Akins talks about how he would like to be remembered

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Daniel Akins describes his family photos

DASession

1$1

DATape

4$4

DAStory

4$6

DATitle
Daniel Akins describes the Free Speech Movement and race relations
Daniel Akins talks about his experience working for the Polaroid Corporation
Transcript
You know. I mean, I don't know if people--. Well, tell me this now; we didn't discuss any of this, but in Berkeley when you were there, it was like the height of the political (unclear)--$$Yes.$$--free speech movement [The Free Speech Movement (FSM) was a student protest which took place during the 1964-1965 academic year on the campus of the University of California, Berkeley under the informal leadership of students Mario Savio, Brian Turner, Bettina Aptheker, Steve Weissman, Art Goldberg, Jackie Goldberg, and others. In protests unprecedented in this scope at the time, students insisted that the university administration lift the ban of on-campus political activities and acknowledge the students' right to free speech and academic freedom.]--$$Oh, yeah. Yeah.$$--Black Panthers [the Black Panther Party for Self Defense, active from 1966-1982] were on the rise. All that was going on when you were there. Did you have a chance to pay any attention to that, because I know you--$$Oh, I [belonged to?] I was there when Mario Savio and Bettina Aptheker and Jerry Rubin, and all of those, you know, took over the administration building and Sproul Hall Plaza [University of California, Berkeley]. I was there during that, then they jumped up on the police car and, you know, and it was--I was there when police would come to the campus. The California's high patrol, you know, their badges covered with black tape and they would take the students and sometimes throw them down a two-story flight, and the only thing that would save them would be other students who would grab them before they would hit the concrete, you know. All of these were white students, I mean. And so, I remember one day that some pregnant students decided they would block the police who had arrested all of these students and then would take them in a bus, and these were pregnant with babies. And the cops got off the bus, off of their buses and beat them with clubs. And I said, "Wait a minute, now. If they're going to do that to them, what are they going to do to me." So I sort of--I, basically, but I wasn't at the center of, you know, of their focus, you know. But it was--that was a daily thing. It was hard to avoid it. I mean, it was a very exciting time to be there. So, when I (unclear), just being on campus, you couldn't miss that.$$Now, did you encounter the Black Panthers at all?$$Oh, yeah. Yeah, I mean, they were people I knew, you now, around campus; then on the avenue, I mean, the coffee houses, I mean, you know. And, there was always something like a stomp speaker--not a stomp speaker, but a box, you know, soapbox speaker. The funny part--it wasn't funny, but the John Birch Society was big too, you know. So every day there was a debate in the Sproul Hall Plaza. And I can remember--there were even people who were trying to recruit you for different things, you know, for whatever. I don't know if it's Secret Services [United States] or what, but they were always around; even Soviets [referring to the Union of Socialist Soviet Republics, 1922-1991]. (laughs).$$So, okay.$$But it was a lot of activity going on at Berkeley. But I avoided any real, you know, getting involved with student groups and things of that sort. But I was in graduate school. That wouldn't have worked anyway.$Okay.$$Then I went to Polaroid [Corporation] for a couple years. That was my private industry experience. And I did that for two years. Then I ended up here.$$Now, what is--what was it like working at Polaroid?$$I was the only black chemist, physical chemist in the whole facility. And it was--I had no one working for me, but I had the title of a senior scientist, and which is unprecedented. I had all the stuff I wanted; they bought me lasers, and I set up the laboratory, but, normally the position would have--you'd have technicians, but I didn't. I did everything for myself. And the reason behind that, I found out later, but there was, as you can imagine, there was some politics going on. I had written--they asked me to write up something. They had a consultant who said there was good work, so they offered me the job. They maybe want to make me the director. But the physical chemistry division, which would have been new, but once the people there got wind that they were bringing someone else new in to run this, there was some friction, resistance. So they decided to ask me to come anyway, you know, come in. But I didn't have the same title, but they gave me for the same money, which was--. So I did it that way. But once I got there, I realized that that was untenable, you know, because you don't report to anyone; you just sort of at the good graces of whomever your sponsor is, who you don't even know who that is. That's one thing I learned, that you got always find out who's backing you. You know, I didn't even know that was of an issue. But once I got there and I find out what was going on, I decided I'd get out as soon as I could. And that took a couple of years. I was fortunate because as soon as I left, Polaroid fell, collapsed. But it was--it was clear that was going to happen because electronic photography was going to clearly take over.$$Yeah. It's--. Oh, so, you were thinking of forming your own business at that time you were saying, before--?$$Yeah, because I was doing some things that I thought were very exciting, and they were a spin-off, maybe of what Polaroid was doing. I really didn't know too much about their field and their science. I was learning, but I thought I had something new that I could do. But as I got experienced in the company doing the research, I realized that you really couldn't compete. I mean, I wouldn't have been able to compete against them, because this is a multi-billion dollar company and, you know, with all the--a lot of people--a lot of buildings and everything going for them. So, that wouldn't have worked. That would have been the wrong area because it's clearly electronic photography was on its way in.$$Now this is 1979, though?$$Yeah.$$And, electronic photography hadn't really--$$It hadn't quite kicked in, but it was on the horizon. You know, I mean, in retrospect, I mean, everyone was saying in the company what was going to happen, but they wanted to diversify. So they started going into equestrian photography at racetracks and using a Polaroid film to get quick pictures of horse ligaments--you know, legs and things. But, you know, it's a sort of small business-kind of thing. They also got into batteries. Those cameras had batteries, so they wanted to spin off into that. But I think the general view was that photography wasn't going to be the future, you know.

Albert N. Thompson, Jr.

Chemist and chemistry professor Albert N. Thompson, Jr. was born October 31, 1946 to Martha Furgess Thompson and Albert Thompson, Sr. in Columbia, South Carolina, (Richland County). His mother was an elementary school teacher and his father was a college professor. After attending Savannah Kay Elementary and William Miller Jr. High Schools, Thompson attended and graduated from Phillis Wheatley, Sr. High School in Houston, Texas in 1964. He received his B.S. degree in chemistry and his M.S. degree in inorganic chemistry from Texas Southern University in 1973 and 1975, respectively. Thompson served as an instructor of physical science and chemistry at Houston Community College and Texas Southern University between 1974 and 1975. He earned his Ph.D. degree in inorganic chemistry from Howard University in 1979. He then became an assistant professor of chemistry at Fisk University.

Thompson served as an assistant professor of chemistry at Fayetteville State University in North Carolina. In 1981, he did a faculty research fellowship at the USAF School of Aerospace Medicine at Brooks Air Force Base, Texas before being hired as a professor at Spelman College in Atlanta, Georgia. Thompson served as a visiting professor of chemistry at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1990. In 2011, Thompson earned a promotion to chair Spelman College’s Division of Natural Sciences and Mathematics.

Thompson has received funding and co-funding from several research and educational grants from organizations such as the National Institutes of Health (NIH), National Science Foundation (NSF), United States Air Force, National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the Department of Energy and the United States Army. Thompson has also served as a research and program proposal consultant to the NSF, NASA, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), NIH, Quality Education for Minorities (QEM) and Project Kaleidoscope organizations. A member of the University of Chicago James Franck Institute NSF Materials Research Center Visiting Advisory Committee, Thompson is an advocate for minority student training in science and research careers. He organized and is involved with the American Chemical Society’s sponsored summer research program for Atlanta area high school students, Project SEED.

Thompson is a member of the American Chemical Society Beta Kappa Chi Scientific Honor Society and the Sigma Pi Sigma Physics Honor Society. He was also featured in an Ebony magazine article on Spelman College. In 2011, he received a distinguished alumni award from the School of Science and Technology at Texas Southern University. Thompson has two children, Amber and Tayloir. He resides in Atlanta, Georgia.

Albert N. Thompson, Jr. was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on March 20, 2012.

Accession Number

A2012.072

Sex

Male

Interview Date

3/20/2012

Last Name

Thompson

Middle Name

N.

Schools

Texas Southern University

Blackshear Elementary School

Kay Granger Elelemtary School

Phillis Wheatley High School

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Albert

Birth City, State, Country

Columbia

HM ID

THO17

Favorite Season

Fall

Sponsor

National Science Foundation

State

South Carolina

Favorite Vacation Destination

Caribbean

Favorite Quote

If you knew the answers, you couldn't call it research.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Georgia

Birth Date

10/31/1946

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Atlanta

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Shrimp

Short Description

Chemistry professor and chemist Albert N. Thompson, Jr. (1946 - ) is chair of Spelman College’s Division of Natural Sciences and Mathematics. He has garnered several research grants from prestigious organizations in the field of porphyrin chemistry such as the National Science Foundation.

Employment

Spelman College

University of Wisconsin, Madison

Fayetteville State University

United States Air Force School of Aerospace Medicine

Fisk University

Texas Southern University

Houston Community College

Main Sponsor
Main Sponsor URL
Favorite Color

Purple

Timing Pairs
0,0:650,3:1460,40:8080,133:9752,151:10368,159:11248,181:11776,187:14800,207:15540,221:16872,248:18870,291:22770,350:27390,481:28230,560:36363,643:37674,669:38433,682:38916,691:39468,700:39882,707:53355,989:54030,999:57855,1065:58230,1071:59055,1084:62430,1159:62730,1164:72360,1267:94384,1497:94798,1505:95626,1524:98662,1570:99076,1577:99421,1583:99835,1590:102526,1641:102871,1647:106090,1668:108090,1690:115766,1759:117131,1773:118132,1789:123683,1866:125958,1935:128598,1953:130515,2008:131580,2032:136621,2162:136905,2167:142260,2225:143050,2240:145736,2298:146289,2306:148422,2358:152925,2440:159900,2504:160320,2511:160740,2518:171674,2684:177450,2835:177906,2842:189069,3034:189464,3040:192020,3104:199140,3268:200993,3289:208164,3357:210018,3394:211610,3409$0,0:3944,31:4476,40:5008,49:5768,57:7972,104:8656,114:9340,124:10328,177:10784,184:11924,193:12836,277:14280,338:14584,343:20830,387:24508,403:29408,513:38510,705:38918,712:39190,719:39870,729:40142,734:40958,747:41502,756:45786,871:60250,1060:61729,1086:62512,1099:62860,1104:64513,1136:78128,1230:79848,1258:80880,1275:82514,1307:83546,1324:85352,1350:86384,1359:89566,1417:89910,1422:94730,1432:107414,1647:108195,1661:108621,1668:109118,1678:113570,1726:113874,1731:115546,1760:117218,1789:119194,1842:119954,1857:128815,1962:140580,2136:142380,2225:152692,2492:152976,2497:154041,2520:154751,2533:155461,2549:155958,2557:161283,2673:161993,2688:168980,2776
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Albert Thompson, Jr.'s interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Albert Thompson, Jr. shares his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Albert Thompson, Jr. discusses his mother's family history

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Albert Thompson, Jr. discusses his father's family history

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Albert Thompson, Jr. talks about his father's education and involvement in a Civil Rights lawsuit

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Albert Thompson, Jr. talks about his parents and his siblings

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Albert Thompson, Jr. describes his earliest childhood memory of moving to Houston, Texas

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Albert Thompson, Jr. explains the Green Book and African American travel

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Albert Thompson, Jr. shares the sights, sounds and smells of his childhood

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Albert Thompson, Jr. talks about the advantages of growing up near Texas Southern University

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Albert Thompson, Jr. talks about his father as a professor at Texas Southern University

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Albert Thompson, Jr. talks about his social and academic experience in elementary school

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Albert Thompson, Jr. discusses his exposure to science and chemistry

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Albert Thompson, Jr. discusses different junior high schools and high schools in Houston, Texas

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Albert Thompson, Jr. talks about his experience at Phyllis Wheatley High School in Houston, Texas

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Albert Thompson, Jr. relates his experience with the Civil Rights Movement growing up in Houston, Texas

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Albert Thompson, Jr. discusses his early college and military experiences

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Albert Thompson, Jr. talks about his mentor Ray Wilson

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Albert Thompson, Jr. talks about Dr. Lloyd Ferguson and his decision to attend Howard University for his Ph.D. degree

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Albert Thompson, Jr. talks about his experience as a doctoral student at Howard University in Washington, D.C.

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Albert Thompson, Jr. talks about his path to becoming a professor at Spelman College in Atlanta, Georgia

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Albert Thompson, Jr. describes his experience as a faculty research fellow at the United States Air Force School of Aerospace Medicine

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Albert Thompson, Jr. talks about Spelman College's reputation and his National Science Foundation proposal

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Albert Thompson, Jr. discusses his visiting professorship at the University of Wisconsin, Madison

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Albert Thompson, Jr. talks about his involvement with minority serving STEM programs

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Albert Thompson, Jr. explains his publication,'Effect of Halogenations of the Nonlinear Optical Properties of Porphyrin and Substituted Porphyrins'

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Albert Thompson, Jr. discusses various publication, grants and awards

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Albert Thompson, Jr. discusses Spelman College's 'Ebony Magazine' feature and its resources

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Albert Thompson, Jr. discusses his STEM philosophy

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Albert Thompson, Jr. relates his appointment to department chair at Spelman College back to his high school experience in Houston, Texas

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Albert Thompson, Jr. discusses his vision for Spelman College and his hopes and concerns for African Americans in the STEM fields

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Albert Thompson, Jr. talks about his career legacy and his family

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Albert Thompson, Jr. shares how he would like to be remembered

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Albert Thompson, Jr. describes his photos

DASession

1$1

DATape

1$3

DAStory

5$3

DATitle
Albert Thompson, Jr. talks about his father's education and involvement in a Civil Rights lawsuit
Albert Thompson, Jr. describes his experience as a faculty research fellow at the United States Air Force School of Aerospace Medicine
Transcript
My father [Albert Nelson Thompson, Sr.] finished Tuskegee Institute [now Tuskegee University, Tuskegee, Alabama] in 1940. He was in education, and he started teaching in Columbia, South Carolina. Not long after, he was very young when he went to college, I think fifteen. He was probably nineteen when he came out. He had difficult finding a job because he looked young, very young, but I remember my grandmother [Ella Evelyn Lewis Thompson] telling me that the superintendent would not hire him because he looked like a boy. And my grandmother also said that this superintendent didn't even have a college degree himself (laughter). My father ended up getting a teaching job with the Columbia school system. That's how he and my mother [Martha Viola Furgess Thompson] met. But in 1944, my father, with the assistance of the NAACP [National Association for the Advancement of Colored People], filed a lawsuit because there was unequal teacher pay during that period. And this was happening around the country. Their counsel was Thurgood Marshall, but the local attorney who handled it was Lawyer [Harold R.] Boulware. And I always heard my parents talk about him. Well, anyway--$$What was his name again?$$Boulware, B-O-U-L-W-A-R-E. I can't think of his first name, but he handled a lot of Civil Rights cases.$$B-O-W--I'm sorry.$$No, B-O-U-L-W-A-R-E.$$U-L--$$It might be an "E" in Boulware, something. I don't think it's W-E-L-L. I think it's Boulware, right. And whenever we went back to South Carolina--we left in 1950, late '49 [1949], '50 [1950], my father would always take us up there to the courthouse and tell us the story about his court case that he did win. The judge was J. Waites Waring, who was the same judge in South Carolina that ruled on that '54 [1954] decision, 'Briggs versus Clarendon County,' you know, and then there was the Topeka [Brown versus Board of Education, 1954] case and the Virginia case. And we all know that the South Carolina case should have been the first one on the docket because Briggs comes before Brown alphabetically. And the story goes that Strom Thurmond [James Strom Thurmond], you know, cut a deal because he didn't want South Carolina to be known. Well, some, some, by default, my father and mother had to leave South Carolina because they could no longer get employment there, probably because my father was a member of the NAACP. And, you know, that was outlawed at that time. And, you know, I've heard my grandmother say, well, things always happen and you have to move on. So my father went, taught for a year in rural South Carolina. Again, we lived in Johnston, South Carolina, right in the same county where Edgefield [South Carolina] is, Strom Thurman's county (laughter), Edgefield County, Edgefield, South Carolina. Then he went on to get a masters degree from NYU [New York University, New York, New York] in the late '40s [1940s]. My sister was actually born in New York City [New York] at Harlem Hospital. And then he took the teaching job at Texas Southern [Texas Southern University, Houston, Texas]. And then some years later, he eventually finished his doctorate degree at the University of Pittsburgh [Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania]. And he retired from Texas Southern after teaching there fifty years (laughter). So in 19-, I guess '99 [1999], somewhere in that time period was when he retired from Texas Southern.$Okay, we also have a note here that you became a faculty research fellow at the United States Air Force School of Aerospace Medicine [San Antonio, Texas]. Is that--$$Yes, that summer before I left Fayetteville [Fayetteville State University, Fayetteville, North Carolina] and came to Spelman [Spelman College, Atlanta, Georgia], I spent that summer in San Antonio, Texas. And so I did research with a Texas Southern [Texas Southern University, Houston, Texas] grad who did his masters under Lloyd Woods and Ray Wilson was his teacher also. His name was Dr. Lovelady, which is very interesting (laughter).$$(Laughter) Dr. Lovelady.$$Lovelady, yes, and--$$Is there a story behind his name?$$No, that's a family name. He's from very close to Dr. Wilson's area, Giddings, Texas. That's where Dr. Wilson is from. There is a Lovelady, Texas, but it's in East, Texas. In fact, when he would call me at Spelman, we had a switchboard operator. We didn't have direct calls, and the switchboard operator stopped me one day. And she said, "There's a Dr. Lovelady calling you and leaving a message. Is that really his name?" I said, yes, that is his name. So were looking at porphyrins as a detector for Hydrazine. Hydrazine is a chemical that's used in jet engines. If the engine flames out, they need to start it up very quickly, and Hydrazine is there to start it up very quickly instead of the fuel. But it's a very toxic and possibly a carcinogen. So they needed a way to detect leakages. And so we were looking at different compounds that could maybe form colors, and they could know if the Hydrazine was leaking or something 'cause the people on the flight path, you know, were exposed to that. So, and, you know, they also looked at other medical research there. There was a centrifuge, 'cause, you know, the pilots had to come there every so often and get retraining and experience, you know, several G's of force, things of that nature. And, in fact, I met a German scientist there, and I can't think of his name, but he was a German from World War II who came over and helped set up that School of Aerospace Medicine, just like [Wernher] Von Braun [German born rocket scientist/aerospace engineer] did, you know, come in Huntsville [Alabama].$$Hermann Oberth [Austro-Hungarian-born German physicist and engineer considered one of the founding fathers of rocketry and astronautics]and--$$Yes, so I met him, and I actually have a book where he signed his name, you know. But that place is shut down. I think it was taken over by a private company in San Antonio [Texas]. But I know the Air Force no longer runs it. Brook Air Force Base was a non-flight place. It was just a research facility. They had some old flight paths there, but they never used it.

Krishna Foster

Chemist and chemistry professor Krishna L. Foster was born on January 7, 1970 in Culver City, California to parents Warren Foster and Frances Smith Foster. Her father, a sales representative for International Business Machines (IBM), and her mother, a professor of English and women’s studies, encouraged Foster and her brother to excel in school. Foster graduated from Helix High School in La Mesa, California in 1988, and she received a NASA Fellowship through the Women in Science and Engineering Program. After earning her B.S. degree in chemistry from Spelman College in 1992, and graduating magna cum laude, Foster decided that she wanted to study environmental chemistry. She continued her education at the University of Colorado at Boulder, where she earned her Ph.D. degree in physical chemistry in 1998. Her final dissertation was entitled, “Laboratory studies on the Interaction of Hydrogen Halides with Ice Films.”

Foster became a postdoctoral researcher at the University of California, Irvine in 1998. In this position, she used mass-spectrometry to examine to what extent sea-salt particles impact the oxidizing capacity of the lower-atmosphere. In 2000, she accepted a position as an assistant professor at California State University, Los Angeles. She received a promotion in 2006 to become an associate professor with tenure. Her work at California State University, Los Angeles, has focused on the effects of sunlight on pollutants at the air-water interface. Her lab has also worked to develop techniques in studying reduced phosphorous oxyanions in natural waters. This study might prove useful in determining how phosphorous, an essential element in all organisms, might have been initially incorporated into living cells in ancient earth.

Foster has served as a mentor to twenty-six high school, undergraduate, and graduate students in providing and guiding research opportunities. Alumni of her lab group have found success in both academia and industry. In 2007, she was honored with the Distinguished Women Award at California State University, Los Angeles.

Krishna L. Foster was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on April 28, 2011.

Accession Number

A2011.031

Sex

Female

Interview Date

4/28/2011

Last Name

Foster

Marital Status

Married

Schools

Helix High School

Spelman College

University of Colorado Boulder

Maryland Avenue Elementary School

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Krishna

Birth City, State, Country

Culver City

HM ID

FOS05

Favorite Season

Spring

Sponsor

National Science Foundation

State

California

Favorite Vacation Destination

Summer in Aspen Colorado

Favorite Quote

None

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

California

Birth Date

1/7/1970

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Los Angeles

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Greens

Short Description

Chemistry professor and chemist Krishna Foster (1970 - ) is known for her work in studying the effects of sunlight on pollutants at the air-water interface. She is currently an associate professor at the California State University, Los Angeles.

Employment

University of California, Irvine

California State University, Los Angeles

Main Sponsor
Main Sponsor URL
Favorite Color

Blue

Timing Pairs
0,0:2160,22:3330,35:3870,41:4320,47:5040,56:6660,73:7380,84:8010,98:16636,179:17012,184:22088,241:26566,263:27022,270:27478,277:28086,287:28922,301:29758,315:30366,325:30974,341:31506,350:32342,390:36066,462:41779,513:42509,524:43385,540:43823,548:44261,555:44553,560:44918,565:46232,582:48203,610:65148,735:82967,958:83864,974:90360,1007:90680,1012:99480,1169:108187,1276:113164,1368:114744,1391:120735,1412:121120,1421:122660,1452:123265,1466:126880,1507:127160,1512:127790,1523:128420,1535:130010,1547:130486,1556:130758,1561:131302,1572:136580,1655:136900,1661:137924,1682:140292,1726:140932,1739:141764,1753:147670,1815:149285,1838:151755,1868:160334,1936:161006,1943:162462,1965:165624,1981:169144,2024:170200,2038:171696,2076:178476,2171:179028,2178:180592,2203:182432,2228:182800,2233:183444,2245:190011,2295:190662,2303:195013,2345:197108,2358:197480,2365:199662,2392:202004,2405:210253,2487:214881,2551:215771,2563:219954,2638:220933,2650:221467,2657:235995,2865:236520,2915:237195,2926:238920,2959:241770,3018:242745,3044:244020,3067:245220,3084:245745,3093:246045,3098:251520,3114:252210,3128:252555,3134:254260,3151:254939,3202:267440,3365:268310,3377$0,0:5858,101:8181,141:9090,152:12625,207:18056,239:18914,247:19510,256:20192,270:20440,275:26799,349:31698,455:35674,592:38159,675:41141,724:41425,729:41922,743:46537,823:46892,829:47247,835:55598,873:59063,948:59945,966:60512,977:61583,999:61835,1004:62276,1012:62906,1023:63347,1032:63599,1037:64229,1053:64481,1058:64922,1066:65237,1072:73680,1166:74100,1174:74380,1179:74800,1186:75150,1192:75710,1201:76480,1217:76760,1222:77040,1227:78160,1246:81450,1274:84132,1311:84759,1323:85386,1338:93034,1397:94954,1426:97930,1471:98794,1481:105225,1520:107715,1574:109624,1609:124936,1761:125346,1838:125674,1843:126822,1883:127232,1931:127642,1937:137210,2011:137560,2018:138260,2033:140640,2098:141060,2106:141480,2116:141760,2121:142180,2128:143300,2148:144140,2167:151002,2249:151668,2265:154480,2331:154776,2336:155368,2345:155812,2352:156256,2359:156774,2367:165590,2480:177208,2608:182038,2682:182410,2694:182720,2700:183030,2706:184390,2715
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Krishna Foster's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Krishna Foster shares her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Krishna Foster talks about her mother's ancestors

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Krishna Foster talks about her maternal grandmother

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Krishna Foster discusses the career path of her mother, Frances Smith Foster

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Krishna Foster shares her father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Krishna Foster talks about her father's education

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Krishna Foster discusses how her parents met

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Krishna Foster talks about her siblings

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Krishna Foster discusses her father's career at IBM

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Krishna Foster recalls her childhood neighborhood

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Krishna Foster recalls the sights, sounds and smells of her childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Krishna Foster describes the United Church of Christ of La Mesa, California

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Krishna Foster remembers her first inclinations toward science

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Krishna Foster remembers trips to the beach with her Montessori School

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Krishna Foster shares her elementary school experiences

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Krishna Foster recalls racial bias in the educational system

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Krishna Foster recalls the child murders in Atlanta

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Krishna Foster talks about her elementary school in San Diego

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Krishna Foster talks about the meaning of her name

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Krishna Foster shares her junior high and high school experiences

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Krishna Foster talks about running track in high school

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Krishna Foster describes her favorite subjects in high school

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Krishna Foster shares her high school aspirations

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Krishna Foster discusses her identification as an African American woman

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Krishna Foster describes the campus atmosphere of Spelman College

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Krishna Foster recalls her chemistry classes at Morehouse College

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Krishna Foster remembers events that happened during her college years

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Krishna Foster talks about her college advisor, Etta Falconer

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Krishna Foster describes her transition to the University of Colorado at Boulder

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Krishna Foster describes her graduate advisors, "Maggie" Tolbert and Steven George

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Krishna Foster talks about stratospheric ozone depletion

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Krishna Foster describes an analytical chemistry apparatus she developed

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Krishna Foster shares some of her experiences at University of Colorado at Boulder

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Krishna Foster recalls her postdoctoral mentor, Barbara Finlayon-Pitts

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Krishna Foster describes her studies in the Arctic, part 1

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Krishna Foster describes her studies in the Arctic, part 2

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Krishna Foster explains her research in ozone chemistry

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Krishna Foster recalls enjoying her research in the Arctic

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Krishna Foster discusses the practical applications of her research in the Arctic

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Krishna Foster talks about her decision to join the faculty of California State University, Los Angeles, part 1

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Krishna Foster talks about her decision to join the faculty of California State University, Los Angeles, part 2

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Krishna Foster talks about the history of research at California State University

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Krishna Foster talks about her mentors at California State University, Los Angeles

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Krishna Foster discusses her research in reduced phosphorous, part 1

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Krishna Foster discusses her research in reduced phosphorous, part 2

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Krishna Foster

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Krishna Foster talks about her hopes for her research

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Krishna Foster discusses NOBCChE

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Krishna Foster talks about her academic responsibilities

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Krishna Foster reflects on her accomplishments

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Krishna Foster offers advice to young people interested in science

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Krishna Foster shares her goals for her professional career

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Krishna Foster shares her concerns for the African American community

Tape: 6 Story: 10 - Krishna Foster talks about her husband and children

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Krishna Foster talks about how she wants to be remembered

DASession

1$1

DATape

2$5

DAStory

3$2

DATitle
Krishna Foster remembers her first inclinations toward science
Krishna Foster recalls enjoying her research in the Arctic
Transcript
Okay, all right. Now when did you first start thinking about or can you remember a time when you first started thinking about becoming a scientist or did you at that age?$$I can look back and see traits where, you know, this fits me and my characteristics but I didn't commit myself to science at an early age. I can't say that at all. I enjoyed, like my mother [Frances Smith Foster] I enjoyed baking. I think I left that out and remember at like ten I was making lemon meringue pies with perky meringue and everything right. I would work on making that just right. So I had tendencies towards wet lab chemistry [a laboratory working with matter] and chemistry and curiosity. You ask for phrases earlier. One of my childhood phrases is why? Why? I always wanted to know why and so much so where I was in a kitchen at the Montessori school where they involved children in doing different types of activities. And the teacher very much wanted the children in the kitchen but when I would ask too many questions, she kicked me out and I was traumatized because I was too into it. I was too into the why and how and can I help you and, you know, I was a busy little child that way. And I went home crying to my mom, "I got kicked out of the kitchen." But this was quite scientific in that I believe it's all about observation, the power of observation and interpretation is what science is to me. I teach my students, as I've matured as a teacher I add more students that--add more assignments that reflect my values as a scientist. It's not that there is a basic skill set that you learn. Everyone has to learn the rules. This--these are tools that we use to solve problems but the ultimate is really solving problems and understanding that every one of us has a spark of genius. Everyone has the potential for genius. It's about being ready, being prepared and being creative, putting yourself in it. And these are things that I expressed as a child as far as creativity and drive and also very good at following the rules. You know I would always get a check plus for good behavior. I was very good at listening and following the rules. And no I didn't know I would end up as a scientist, but I can see that this is the profession for me. My first formal commitment to science didn't come until it was time to select a college. So that's when I picked engineering, mathematics, science.$$Okay. Well I don't want to get you there yet.$$Yeah.$$But so, now okay well, did you--were you the type of kid that watched the nature programs on television and when Walt Disney would have this nature segment or you know programs on public television and that sort of thing?$$I remember the Jacques Cousteau [Jacques-Yves Cousteau]. You know who didn't watch Jacques Cousteau at that age. And '[The] Electric Company' [PBS, 1971-1977] and '1-2-3 Contact' [sic, '3-2-1 Contact,' PBS, 1980-1988]. That's the name of it. That was--that show just sucked me right in. I was about ten years old at the time and I would watch it religiously. It was a science show and that was very exciting to me, again another early indicator that I enjoyed that show.$$Okay. Yeah that's, I remember that show now. I mean I didn't, I don't think I ever watched it but I remember just seeing it listed you know. I didn't know what kind of show it was but it's a science one.$Okay. So you're up there for a total of how long?$$I stayed for seven weeks. I stayed for seven--I think originally it was six and then we decided to extend it. So I committed to six and they kept me for seven. I would have stayed for twelve, fourteen because I was just into it.$$Okay. So your early dread of going was kind of overcome by the excitement of what you were doing?$$It was overcome by talking to Susan Solomon who actually proposed the mechanism for polar stratospheric ozone completion [winner of the 1999 National Medal of Science]. I had ran into her during my Boulder days. She actually critiqued my first poster. I ran into her at a conference. I said Susan, what have I done? How am I going to stay alive?, cause she's petite also. And so she's like, here's what you do. She wrote down some names about where to get the right boots, told me about the right parka, the right gloves and I was set. So I was comforted about the snow by talking to somebody who lived in more extreme conditions time and time again. She did this several times going to the Antarctic where I was only trying to go to the arctic. So to talk to a survivor made me feel better about going up there and I was more than prepared as far as clothing.$$Was there ever a time you were actually--had a little trepidation while you were there about--?$$I am fearless in a way and I'm cautious, I plan. But in other ways I'm absolutely fearless. And so there were very dangerous situations where--what were we doing? When we first landed there was a storm that came in. There was a storm so bad that they said if you go outside you will have permanent frostbite forever. You know this is it. If you have your skin exposed this could happen to you. So on that day you know I covered up real good and I walked to the gym. I left--I went outside. I mean I don't know. I don't know why I do what I do. Brilliantly stupid, I don't know. But then another day we were running an experiment and you have to make a decision every evening, are you going to stay in the lab or are you going to go back to base? We have better facilities, back up generators, all of this. We were running an experiment and we didn't want to leave so we decided to camp out at the base. A storm came in. I mean I have photographs of the weather just changing within twenty minutes from perfectly sunny to a vicious storm. And we're sitting there. No one could get us. I mean we couldn't get back to the base ourselves. If the power went out we would have been in a bad way. A couple of hours without power and you're just dead, you know. But we stayed up there and did the experiment and I didn't even think twice about it.

Lloyd N. Ferguson

Chemist and chemistry professor Lloyd Noel Ferguson was born on February 9, 1918 in Oakland, California to Noel Ferguson, a businessman, and Gwendolyn Ferguson, a house maid. Ferguson’s interest in chemistry began when he was a child. He built a shed in his backyard so that he could conduct experiments away from his house. Ferguson skipped two grades, and although an illness kept him out of school for a year, he was able to graduate from Oakland Tech High School in 1934, when he was just sixteen. After high school, Ferguson worked with the Works Progress Administration and soon thereafter, the Southern Pacific Railway Company as a porter to save money to attend college. In 1936, Ferguson became the first in his family to attend college, and he earned his B.S. degree with honors in chemistry from University of California, Berkeley in 1940. Ferguson then earned his Ph.D. degree in chemistry from University of California, Berkeley in 1943, making him the first African American to do so. While at Berkeley, Ferguson worked with Dr. Melvin Calvin on a national defense project, the purpose of which was to find a material that would release oxygen for use in a submarine if it was ever needed.

In 1945, after working at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical College in Greensboro, North Carolina, Ferguson received an offer to join the faculty of Howard University in Washington D.C. He became a full professor of chemistry at Howard University in 1955, and in 1958 Ferguson became the head of the chemistry department. During his tenure, Ferguson was instrumental in building the first doctoral program in chemistry at any historically black college or university. In 1952 he was elected to the prestigious American Chemical Society. In 1965, Ferguson joined the faculty of California State University, Los Angeles, where he chaired the department of chemistry from 1968 to 1971. Throughout his academic career, Ferguson pursued many scientific interests including: the chemistry of carbon-based molecules, the organic nature of taste sensations, and cancer-causing agents. Ferguson received the California State University CSU Outstanding Professor Award in 1974 and in 1981. In 1976 Ferguson received the Distinguished American Medallion from the American Foundation for Negro Affairs. Ferguson was the only African American to receive an ACS award in chemical education in 1978. He has published seven textbooks and has written over fifty journal articles. He has also helped to develop programs such as Support of the Educationally and Economically Disadvantaged and the Minority Biomedical Research Program that encourage young minority students wishing to pursue higher education and careers in science. In 1972, Ferguson co-founded the National Organization of Black Chemists and Chemical Engineers. He retired from California State University in Los Angeles in 1986.

Ferguson has a scholarship named after him at the California State University, Los Angeles. He received an honorary Ph.D. degree in chemistry from Howard University. Ferguson is married to Charlotte Welch, and they have raised three adult children, Lloyd, Jr., Stephen, and Lisa.

Lloyd N. Ferguson was interviewed by the HistoryMakerson April 25, 2011.

Lloyd N. Ferguson passed away on November 30, 2011.

Accession Number

A2011.030

Sex

Male

Interview Date

4/25/2011 |and| 4/27/2011

Last Name

Ferguson

Marital Status

Married

Middle Name

N.

Schools

University of California, Berkeley

Herbert Hoover Junior High School

Oakland Technical High School

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Lloyd

Birth City, State, Country

Oakland

HM ID

FER02

Favorite Season

All Seasons

Sponsor

National Science Foundation

State

California

Favorite Vacation Destination

None

Favorite Quote

None

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

California

Birth Date

2/9/1918

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Los Angeles

Country

United States

Favorite Food

None

Death Date

11/30/2011

Short Description

Chemistry professor and chemist Lloyd N. Ferguson (1918 - 2011 ) was instrumental in building the doctoral program in chemistry at Howard University, the first of its kind at any historically black college or university. He joined the faculty of California State University, Los Angeles in 1965 and co-founded the National Organization for Black Chemists and Chemical Engineers (NOBCChE).

Employment

Howard University

California State University, Los Angeles

Works Progress Administration

Southern Pacific Railroad

North Carolina A&T State University

Carlsberg Laboratorium

University of Nairobi

Bennett College

Main Sponsor
Main Sponsor URL
Favorite Color

None

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Lloyd Ferguson's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Lloyd Ferguson shares his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Lloyd Ferguson talks about his mother and father's family histories

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Lloyd Ferguson talks about his mother's side of the family

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Lloyd Ferguson talks about his father coming to California from Jamaica

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Lloyd Ferguson talks about how his parents met in California

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Lloyd Ferguson talks about living near his grandparents as a child

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Lloyd Ferguson describes the sights, sounds, and smells of growing up

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Lloyd Ferguson talks about his interest in sports

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Lloyd Ferguson talks about selling cleaning products that he made in his backyard laboratory

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Lloyd Ferguson talks about his early school experience

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Lloyd Ferguson explains how the depression affected his family

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Lloyd Ferguson talks about his experience at Oakland Technical High School, part 1

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Lloyd Ferguson talks about his experience at Oakland Technical High School, part 2

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Lloyd Ferguson talks about growing up and the influence of church

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Lloyd Ferguson talks about his interest in becoming a scientist

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Lloyd Ferguson talks about having fun despite the Depression

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Lloyd Ferguson talks about his job after high school at the Southern Pacific Railroad

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Lloyd Ferguson talks about going to the University of California, Berkeley for college

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Lloyd Ferguson talks about working as a red cap while attending school at the University of California, Berkeley

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Lloyd Ferguson talks about his classes and professors at the University of California, Berkeley

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Lloyd Ferguson talks about his submarine project at the University of California, Berkeley

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Lloyd Ferguson talks about the chemistry department at the University of California, Berkeley

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Lloyd Ferguson talks about working in the radiation laboratory at the University of California, Berkeley

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Lloyd Ferguson talks about working with Melvin Calvin in the University of California, Berkeley radiation laboratory

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Lloyd Ferguson describes his research advisor at the University of California, Berkeley

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Lloyd Ferguson recalls meeting his wife and teaching at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Lloyd Ferguson recalls notable people at Howard University, part 1

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Lloyd Ferguson talks about his work in the chemistry department at Howard University

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Lloyd Ferguson recalls notable people at Howard University, part 2

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Lloyd Ferguson talks about chemistry textbooks

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Lloyd Ferguson talks about doing research in organic chemistry at Howard University

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Lloyd Ferguson talks about the textbooks that he wrote

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Lloyd Ferguson talks about his research on the taste and color of organic compounds at Howard University

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Lloyd Ferguson recalls other African Americans at Howard University

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Lloyd Ferguson recalls his first textbook and his sabbatical in Copenhagen

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Lloyd Ferguson describes the difference in resources between the University of California, Berkeley and Howard University

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Lloyd Ferguson talks about his sabbatical in Zurich and working with Nobel Prize Laureate Professor Prelog

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Lloyd Ferguson talks about joining the faculty of California State University, Los Angeles

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Lloyd Ferguson talks about his interest in golf

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Lloyd Ferguson responds to questions about his involvement with the FDA and Project SEED

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Lloyd Ferguson talks about his 1971 sabbatical to Nairobi, Kenya

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Lloyd Ferguson remembers talks about MBRS and NOBCChE

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Lloyd Ferguson recalls his awards and accolades

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Lloyd Ferguson reflects on his life's accomplishments and shares his hopes for the black community

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Lloyd Ferguson talks about his wife, children, and how he would like to be remembered

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Lloyd Ferguson recalls working with Melvin Calvin

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Lloyd Ferguson talks about starting the graduate chemistry program at Howard University

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Lloyd Ferguson shares his memories of Sam Ashley, Percy Julian, and Herman Branson

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Lloyd Ferguson remembers playing bridge at California State University, Los Angeles

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Lloyd Ferguson responds to questions about his research

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Lloyd Ferguson has trouble remembering his fellow colleagues at Howard University

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Lloyd Ferguson reflects on his life's accomplishments

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Lloyd Ferguson talks about his wife and his personal life

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Lloyd Ferguson talks about his teaching and his textbooks

Tape: 6 Story: 10 - Lloyd Ferguson talks about his early interest in science

Tape: 6 Story: 11 - Lloyd Ferguson reflects on his career after leaving the University of California, Berkeley

DASession

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DATape

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DAStory

12$10

DATitle
Lloyd Ferguson explains how the depression affected his family
Lloyd Ferguson talks about his early interest in science
Transcript
Well tell us what happened, I guess, cause your family experienced an economic hit during the Depression [The Great Depression, 1930s], right?$$Yeah.$$Well, tell us what happened?$$Well, of course, I was little, didn't pay much attention, but my father [Noel Swithin Ferguson] lost his job, yes. And he couldn't afford, he couldn't afford keeping up the apartment building. The rent that came in, I mean a lot of the, a lot of people lost their jobs and they couldn't pay their rent and so forth, and he couldn't maintain the apartment building. And so he wanted to get rid of it and he tried to burn it. And that wasn't successful, so he had to go to jail for that, for arson, for a year or something.$$He was desperate trying to collect the insurance money?$$Yes, and get rid of it. I don't remember how many units it had. It was a big building there. But that's the only thing I remember at that time.$$That must have been devastating for your family, for your father to go to jail?$$Yes, right. I guess that's where he was when I graduated from college, I believe, yeah. He was still there when I graduated from college [1940]. So he spent some time.$$That's a long time to spend, it seems to me, a long time to spend for the crime.$$Yeah.$$Well, okay. So was your mother [Gwendolyn Louise Johnson Ferguson] still working?$$Yeah, she was working. As I say, she was an elevator operator, and sometimes she'd go out and serve meals for people who wanted a waitress, and you know, served meals.$$Okay, almost like a catering business or like a--$$Well, she didn't provide the food. She'd just come in and cook or not so much cooking even, just preparing it and serving it, making extra.$$Okay, she was part of the wait staff of catering?$$Yes.$$Okay. So did you participate in that too?$$No.$$So you had to live with your grandparents [maternal grandparents] after that?$$I spent, yeah, I lived with my grandparents. I'd sleep over their house too. We, they wasn't very far apart so I'm running back and forth and so forth, but most of the time I was spending with my grandparents. And then my cousins would come in and visit and other grandchildren would come in and visit and we'd play and so forth.$Were there any subjects you didn't do well in when you were in high school [Oakland Technical High School]?$$Well, I don't know. None that, maybe when I found out I wasn't gonna do well, maybe I got out of it. I don't remember.$$(Laughter). So the high school, did you go to high school in Oakland [California]?$$Yes. The teacher was very encouraging.$$You had good chemistry teachers?$$Yes.$$And so they encouraged you to go to Berkley [University of California, Berkeley]?$$I think so, probably so.$$Were you able to do lab work in the--$$high school?$$--in the high school? Did they have any labs?$$Yes, do some labs, and that's when I built a lab in the backyard and--$$Oh, you did. Did you blow up anything?$$Oh, once in a while I'd have an explosion and get a lot of fun out of it.$$(Laughter). Did you ever get in trouble with your parents?$$No, not with my parents and so forth. Sometimes teachers, the school didn't want me to fool with explosives, and that's where the fun was.$$(Laughter) How did you get interested in explosives and chemistry?$$Oh, I don't know, by a school teacher who was, let's see. I guess it was a high school teacher encouraged me to do experiments, and I learned about explosives and colors and so forth. And I just built a little lab out in the backyard and worked and played out there with the chemicals.$$By yourself or you had--$$Yeah.$$And so you were reading the books? This was in high school--$$Yes, right.$$--so you would read and figure out how to do some experiments and things?$$Yes, and explore a little bit.$$(Laughter). It was always fun.$$So that was, when you were in high school, was it close to being a senior or were you graduating or?$$No, let's see, it was probably junior and senior high years in high school, and I'd have fun with these chemicals. So I built this lab in the backyard and work out there.$$Where'd you get the chemicals? Do you remember?$$Oh, just buy them at stores.$$Oh, I see.$$Some drugstores or some--$$So you just used things that you could buy and then--$$Yes, oh, yes.$$And do you remember what made you apply to Berkley [University of California, Berkeley]?$$To do what?$$To, why did you want to go to school at Berkley?$$I don't know. It just seemed to be the only place to go.$$It was right there in town, huh?$$

Alvin Kennedy

Chemist and chemistry professor Alvin P. Kennedy was born on June 1, 1955, to Helen Augusta Kennedy and Amos Paul Kennedy. He grew up in Grambling, Louisiana, where he attended Grambling Laboratory School and later Grambling High School. Kennedy attended Grambling State University during which time he participated in several research internships, graduating with his B.S. degree in chemistry in 1978. He pursued graduate studies at the University of California, Berkeley with funding from an AT&T Bell Labs fellowship. His graduate research focused on the development of chemical lasers and the kinetics associated with spontaneous reactions. Kennedy received his Ph.D. degree in physical chemistry in 1985.

After graduating from the University of California, Berkeley, Kennedy was hired at Dow Chemical Company as a senior research chemist in central research, where he developed new polymer systems for microelectronic applications. He also produced sixteen internal publications and was promoted to project leader in central research at Dow in 1989. In 1991, Kennedy was appointed assistant professor of chemistry at North Carolina A&T State University, and in 1996, he was promoted to associate professor. He also received a NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration)/ASEE (American Society for Engineering Education) Research Fellowship at the Marshall Space Flight Center in 1997. In 2000, Kennedy joined the faculty at Morgan State University as associate professor of chemistry and chair of the chemistry department. Kennedy has been a tenured professor at Morgan State University since 2002.

Kennedy received several patents throughout his career including two patents on laminates of polymers in 1993 and 1995. In 1998, he patented the Resin transfer molding process for composites. Kennedy has been the recipient of several honors including his 1998 appearance in Who’s Who Among America’s Teachers and his 2008 Henry McBay Outstanding Teacher of the Year award from the National Organization of Black Chemists and Chemical Engineers. He is married to Sharon Kennedy and has three children from a previous marriage.

Alvin Kennedy was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on July 15, 2010.

Accession Number

A2010.067

Sex

Male

Interview Date

7/15/2010

Last Name

Kennedy

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Alvin

Birth City, State, Country

Lansing

HM ID

KEN04

Favorite Season

Fall

Sponsor

National Science Foundation

State

Michigan

Favorite Vacation Destination

Chincoteague, Virginia

Favorite Quote

Do.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Maryland

Birth Date

6/1/1955

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Baltimore

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Steak

Short Description

Chemistry professor and chemist Alvin Kennedy (1955 - ) is chair of the chemistry department at Morgan State University. During his career, he worked at Dow Chemical Company where he received three polymer-related patents.

Employment

Morgan State University

North Carolina A&T State University

Dow Chemical Company

University of California, Berkeley

Main Sponsor
Main Sponsor URL
Favorite Color

Blue

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Alvin Kennedy's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Alvin Kennedy shares his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Alvin Kennedy talks about his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Alvin Kennedy describes his mother

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Alvin Kennedy talks about his father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Alvin Kennedy talks about his parents' academic careers

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Alvin Kennedy discusses his family's emphasis on education

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Alvin Kennedy describes his father

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Alvin Kennedy shares childhood memories

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Alvin Kennedy lists his siblings

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Alvin Kennedy talks about growing up in Grambling, Louisiana

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Alvin Kennedy talks about his early school experiences in Louisiana

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Alvin Kennedy details his childhood experience in Michigan

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Alvin Kennedy recalls his early interest in science

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Alvin Kennedy describes his junior high school and high school experiences in Louisiana

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Alvin Kennedy recounts his undergraduate experience at Grambling State University

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Alvin Kennedy remembers coaching his high school basketball team

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Alvin Kennedy discusses his scientific influences during college at Grambling State University

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Alvin Kennedy talks about faculty members at Grambling State University

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Alvin Kennedy talks about football at Grambling State University

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Alvin Kennedy discusses being raised as a Methodist.

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Alvin Kennedy talks about the interplay between science and religion

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Alvin Kennedy talks about himself as a child

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Alvin Kennedy describes his internships during college at Grambling State University

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Alvin Kennedy discusses his internship at Bell Labs in Murray Hill, New Jersey

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Alvin Kennedy talks about his graduate school experience at the University of California, Berkeley

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Alvin Kennedy describes the field of physical chemistry

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Alvin Kennedy remembers racial difficulties during graduate school at the University of California, Berkeley

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Alvin Kennedy talks about graduate school at the University of California, Berkeley, part 2

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Alvin Kennedy describes his graduate research with chemical lasers

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Alvin Kennedy talks about his graduate school experience at the University of California, Berkeley

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Alvin Kennedy details his final dissertation defense

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Alvin Kennedy talks about how his family influenced his graduate school experience

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Alvin Kennedy reflects on his decision to go into industry after graduate school

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Alvin Kennedy describes his experience at Dow Chemical Company

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Alvin Kennedy discusses his career move to North Carolina A&T State University

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Alvin Kennedy describes his awards and patents

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Alvin Kennedy remembers the reaction to one of his early National Science Foundation grant proposals

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Alvin Kennedy talks about his transition to teaching at North Carolina A&T State University

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Alvin Kennedy talks about getting funding at North Carolina A&T State University

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Alvin Kennedy recalls leaving North Carolina A&T State University for Morgan State University

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Alvin Kennedy details his initiatives at Morgan State University

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Alvin Kennedy recalls Morgan State University students' reactions to focus on research

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Alvin Kennedy talks about his involvement in NOBCChE and the American Chemical Society

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Alvin Kennedy discusses the future of his field and his long-term vision for the Morgan State University chemistry department

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Alvin Kennedy talks about his spouse and children

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Alvin Kennedy reflects on his life's accomplishments

DASession

1$1

DATape

2$4

DAStory

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DATitle
Alvin Kennedy recalls his early interest in science
Alvin Kennedy talks about his graduate school experience at the University of California, Berkeley
Transcript
Let's go back to Grambling [Louisiana]. Are there special teachers there at the elementary school [Grambling Laboratory School] that stand out?$$Yeah, actually, there were. Ms. Turner, it was my fifth grade teacher. And I think that was when I first started, that's when I first started accepting the fact that I could do math. I mean I, and I realized that I was good at it and didn't--it wasn't a stigma associated with it. It was sort of, it was actually fun to a large extent. And so I think she was the one that really enabled me in terms of just being able to just recognize that I can do math and I was good at it.$$Is this also when you develop an interest in science?$$My interest in science? I think I've always had an interest in science to a certain extent. I've always been interested in fundamental questions, you know, the why am I here, what's going on type of thing? So I've always had that interest in general.$$Do you remember your earliest recollection about science?$$Well, yeah, actually, I do. It turns out that we used to go to my father's [Amos Paul Kennedy] office after church. And there, he actually had a chemical model set. And so that's when I first started putting models together, seeing what a water molecule was, what a methane molecule was. And it was pretty cool to be able to, but, you know, nobody had things to play with other than Tonka toys or something like that.$$Now, of the friends that you had at that stage, did most of them have parents who were educated like yours or were you unique in that respect?$$No, most of them were at the, educated. My best friend's father was actually a graphics artist. So he's a printer. So he did not have an advanced degree, but he was in the arts themselves. But, yeah, most of the, my friends had, their parents usually taught or else they at least had a college education.$$Do you recall having a discussion about science with your father [Amos Paul Kennedy]?$$Oh, yeah, and like I said, when we, we used to do the modeling things and stuff like that. A lot of my discussion, more of my discussions with my father were, have always been more of a philosophical nature as opposed to a scientific nature.$I'm getting ready to move on to your graduation from [University of California ]Berkeley, the PhD, but before we do that, are there any other things about that period of time that you want to talk about?$$Well, the funniest for me or the most enlightening, almost, well, two enlightening was, one of them was the, my final exam in quantum mechanics. And on the final exam in quantum mechanics, it was open everything. And we had five days to do it, sweated bullets day and night. So I finally took the exam to the guy, and I was like, I just, I did the best I can, but there's a lot of blanks here. He said, "I didn't make that exam for anybody to pass it." I said, "what?" He said, "no, I made it to check people's ego." I said, "well, you certainly did that sir" (laughter). The other thing was in a discussion with my advisor about some results I had gotten in the lab. And we were throwing ideas around, and I've forgotten exactly what it was. But he put up on the board what I thought was the stupidest thing in the world. And he just put it up there just as casually as possible. And I was like, "George, that doesn't make any sense", and I started laughing because I realized at that point that we were doing work that no one else did. And that no one knows what the answer is at that point. And it was--that's one of the things that I look for now in my students today is, when they realize that I'm not the oracle, that I don't know this thing either and that now we're sharing our ignorance in trying to figure out how to get to the next level.$$When did that first hit you, that realization that you could talk with the big boys?$$That was that. That was the point. That was when I, it was like okay. You know, there's no intimidation. This is strictly, we're just out here on our own. And so that was the one that, where--I mean there were other events that, you know, keyed me in. Like I said, throughout the years, I knew that my education was equivalent if not better than most people's education, but that was the one that really kind of said, okay, you know, there really is no God man (laughter).