The Caltech Institute Archives

Interview with Joseph B. Koepfli

Koepfli, Joseph B. (1985) Interview with Joseph B. Koepfli. [Oral History]

PDF - Published Version
See Usage Policy.


Use this Persistent URL to link to this item:


An interview in four sessions, October and November 1983, with Joseph B. Koepfli, research associate in the Division of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering (1932-1971). Dr. Koepfli received a BA and MA from Stanford and a D.Phil. from Oxford (1928). In this wide-ranging interview he talks about his scientific work on isoquinoline alkaloids, plant physiology, and antimalarial drugs; his time at Oxford in the Dyson-Perrins laboratories; his arrival at and subsequent impressions of Caltech; and his extensive career as a scientific consultant to the U. S. government in various capacities. Along the way, he recalls many Caltech and other scientific colleagues, particularly Linus Pauling and Pauling’s political troubles. He details his work as science advisor to the State Department in the early1950s and the opposition he encountered from ideologues of the McCarthy era. Later he chaired a NATO task force on science and technology; he ended his public career in the 1960s, as a member of UNESCO’s National Commission. He concludes the interview with comments on the establishment of the Koepfli Fund for Caltech and the importance of providing a broad education in the humanities for young scientists.

Item Type:Oral History
Keywords:Chemistry; U.S. State Department.
Record Number:CaltechOH:OH_Koepfli_J
Persistent URL:
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
Subjects:Subjects > Chemistry
All Records
ID Code:286
Deposited By: Oral Histories Administrator
Deposited On:15 Apr 2019 20:09
Last Modified:04 Oct 2019 15:24

Repository Staff Only: item control page