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Interview with Samuel Epstein

Epstein, Samuel (2011) Interview with Samuel Epstein. [Oral History]

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An interview in three sessions, December 1985 and January 1986, with Samuel Epstein, William E. Leonhard Professor of Geochemistry in the Division of Geological and Planetary Sciences. Dr. Epstein received his BS (1941) and MS (1942) degrees from the University of Manitoba and his PhD (1944, with Carl Winkler) from McGill University. He became a research fellow at Caltech in 1952 and two years later joined the faculty as an associate professor. He received the Leonhard chair in 1984, retired in 1990, and died on September 17, 2001. In this interview, he discusses growing up in Poland between the two World Wars and immigration to Winnipeg in 1927. Recalls his first interest in science and influence of Alan Newton Campbell at University of Manitoba; graduate work at McGill; meeting European scientists during war work on Canadian Atomic Energy Project. Moves to McMaster University to work with Henry G. Thode on isotopes, using mass spectrometry; thence to the University of Chicago, 1947, to work with Harold Urey on paleotemperatures and Heinz Lowenstam on marine shells. He discusses the advent of geochemistry at Caltech in the early 1950s, with the hiring of Harrison Brown, Clair Patterson, Charles McKinney, Gerald Wasserburg, and himself from the University of Chicago. He describes his isotopic work and the evolution of the geology division, especially under Robert Sharp (1952-1968). Comments on Linus Pauling case and Pauling’s departure from Caltech. The interview concludes with comments on current state of Caltech and reminiscences of his career and colleagues.

Item Type:Oral History
Keywords:Geology, geochemistry
Record Number:CaltechOH:OH_Epstein_S
Persistent URL:
Official Citation:Epstein, Samuel. Interview by Carol Bugé. Pasadena, California, December 19 and 26, 1985, and January 10, 1986. 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:Subjects > Geology
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ID Code:197
Deposited By: Oral Histories Administrator
Deposited On:12 Dec 2011 18:25
Last Modified:04 Oct 2019 15:23

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