Educational Background

My undergraduate work was at George Washington University (1944-1947) to which I was fortunate to receive a scholarship. My teacher in physical chemistry was Reuben Wood, a graduate of CIT.  The faculty was uniformly excellent, providing me with a solid foundation in the sciences. I attended inspiring lectures by George Gamow and Ugo Fano, but with limited understanding of the subject matter. My graduate work was at the California Institute of Technology under the direction of Norman Davidson. The subject investigated was “optical interaction absorption,” a phenomenon in which a solution having metal ions in two oxidation states (e.g. cuprous and cupric ions) shows much stronger light absorption at longer wavelengths than would be expected from the absorptions of solutions of the individual ions (3). I was a National Research Council Postdoctoral Fellow in the laboratory of Robert S. Mulliken in Chicago (1950-1952); in this lab I interacted mostly with John R. Platt. My research accomplishments in Chicago were modest; I think the most interesting paper I wrote there was on the catalysis of cis-trans isomerization in ethylene by paramagnetic substances, which I attributed to spin exchange interaction between the triplet state of twisted ethylene and the paramagnetic catalyst.(7).


While still at Chicago Maria Goeppert Mayer offered me a position as a post doc calculating band structures of metals and alloys. I did not accept that offer, probably because at the time I did not see the connection between theory and experiment. I did interview for an academic  position in Chemistry at Iowa, but was turned down. As an only child I was concerned about my aging parents in Washington, D.C. Sometime later I applied for a job at NIH but was turned down. I also applied for a job at the NSA and was offered one but did not accept it. The issue of my parents was ultimately resolved by my move to CIT.  I would not move to Washington; they would move to California.



Chapter 1: Early Work at Shell and CIT