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Interview with John D. Roberts

Roberts, John D. (1987) Interview with John D. Roberts. [Oral History]

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Interview in seven sessions, February-May 1985, with John D. Roberts, Institute Professor of Chemistry (now emeritus) in the Division of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering. Family background, early education, Los Angeles; Caltech open houses in early 1930s. Studies chemistry, UCLA (BA 1941). Graduate work Penn State University with F. Whitmore; return to UCLA, war-related research; theoretical organic chemistry with S. Winstein (PhD 1944). 1945, NRC Fellowship, Harvard; R. B. Woodward. Assistant professorship MIT; recollections of A. Cope, A. A. Morton; L. Pauling's theory of molecular resonance; molecular orbital theory of R. S. Mulliken. Research on carbonium ions, carbon cations with R. Mazur; dispute with S. Winstein. Consultant at DuPont, starting 1950. Guggenheim, Caltech, 1952; joins chemistry faculty 1953. H. Lucas, L. Pauling, other colleagues. Guggenheim to England. J. H. Sturdivant, V. Schomaker, D. Semenow, G. Whitesides. Election (1956) to NAS; heads chemistry section; NAS response to W. Shockley and R. Lewontin affairs. NSF chemistry advisory panel (1957-1962); Mohole Seismological Drilling Project; faculty salaries. Writes Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (1959), Basic Principles of Organic Chemistry (1964); W. A. Benjamin; collaboration with M. B. Caserio on Basic Principles of Organic Chemistry; writes Modern Organic Chemistry. NMR at Caltech; construction of NMR spectrometer lab; carbon-13 experiments; work of F. Wiegert, K. Kanamori; E. Swift, division chairman; H. McConnell; JDR as division chairman (1963-1968); faculty changes, role of H. Gray; construction of Noyes Laboratories; G. Hammond, acting chairman. Recollections of L. DuBridge and R. Bacher. L. Pauling and anti-nuclear movement. J. Baldeschwieler's chairmanship (1973-1978); presidencies of R. Christy (1977-1978) and M. L. Goldberger (1978-1987). JDR as provost (1980-1983). Caltech administration 1970s and 1980s; R. Vogt as provost. L. E. Hood, biotechnology at Caltech. Computer scientists I. Sutherland, C. Mead. S. Wolfram, Symbolic Manipulation Program. JDR chairs Athenaeum Board; R. Ireland's role in upgrading Athenaeum. JDR's honors and awards.

Item Type:Oral History
Keywords:Chemistry, nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy
Record Number:CaltechOH:OH_Roberts_J
Persistent URL:
Official Citation:Roberts, John D. Interview by Rachel Prud'homme. Pasadena, California, February 22, 28, March 7, 21, 25, April 12, and May 10, 1985. Oral History Project, California Institute of Technology Archives. Retrieved [supply date of retrieval] from the World Wide Web:
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
Subjects:All Records
Subjects > Chemistry
Subjects > Administration
ID Code:173
Deposited By: Oral Histories Administrator
Deposited On:23 Nov 2010
Last Modified:25 Mar 2021 23:20

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