In autumn of 1907, William Albert Noyes was brought to this campus as Professor of Chemistry and Director of the Chemical Laboratory. The building is named after him because he brought the first touch of greatness to that discipline on the University of Illinois campus. Noyes was 50 years old. He had a background in teaching (Minnesota, Tennessee, and Rose Poly) and in government work (the National Bureau of Standards). He was an internationalist, having lived in Munich (1889) and having been a member of the Chemische Gesellshaft and the Societé de Chimie Industrielle, and he was an editor (the American Chemical Society Journal, Chemical Abstracts, Chemical Monographs, and Chemical Reviews).
I do not go back that far, but sometime after I had come to Urbana, Illinois, unauspiciously in 1942, I was assigned space in the prior office/laboratory of W. A. Noyes in the northwest corner of the first floor. His samples of camphor and camphoric acid were still there in the cupboard under the hood. His widow, his third wife, still lived in the family house at 1105 Nevada Street, and that is where Lennie Miller and his beginning family first lived as renter-custodians. Professor Fuson got along with W. A. Noyes, he said, by willingly, or perhaps blindly, signing the many petitions that were thrust in front of him. As I said, W. A. Noyes was an internationalist; he was also a "mover," and he was blind to color. He knew the American chemical scene very well.
When Roger Adams took over as Head of the Department in 1926, Adams stated his avowed purpose of improving the quality of the graduate students in Chemistry. Thus, he did not take too seriously the application of a young man at a small college in Indiana who was uncertain as to whether he wanted to be a scientist or a football coach. Noyes, however, urged Adams to offer Wendell M. Stanley a teaching assistantship because he had great faith in the Earlham professor's recommendation of Stanley and of other applicants before him. "Take Stanley this year and then start improving the quality of the graduate students next year" was Noyes' amusive advice to Adams. Twenty years later, Wendell Stanley shared the Nobel Prize for research on the structure of the tobacco mosaic virus. He was Illinois' only Nobel Laureate for some time!
Much has been written about Roger Adams, but I simply quote from the citation of 1964 when he was awarded the National Medal of Science:"For superb contributions [to chemistry] as a scientist, teacher, and imaginative leader in furthering the constructive interaction of academic and industrial scientists."
I obtained approval from William Albert Noyes, Jr., to publish an 80th Birthday Greeting to Roger Adams in the Journal of the American Chemical Society. When I had written it, I decided to show it to Dr. Adams for correction and approval, for I knew that he liked neither surprises nor inaccuracies, and it was duly published in 1969. The definitive biography of "The Chief" was written by the Tarbells and was published in 1981.
My first writing experience with Dr. Adams took place in 1943. We met for a Sunday lunch in August at the (then) Men's Faculty Club, and he asked me how my postdoctoral research was coming along. I told him I had completed the required alkaloid synthesis, to which he responded enthusiastically: "Write up the experimental in JACS style and bring it along to the house this evening." That was not what I had originally planned to do on a Sunday afternoon, but the evening writing of the descriptive section of the article went smoothly, assisted by our consumption of a large bag of popcorn. I bargained for a little more time before submission of the article in order to establish the stereochemistry of our product, and that worked out very well within the next month. Dr. Adams had indicated what a real devotee of organic chemistry could or should do on a Sunday afternoon and evening in the summer! Later, when I was on my own as a beginning staff member, I sought advice from senior staff members to supplement my initial writing efforts. I remember well three bits of advice that I took to heart.
Harold Snyder, upon reading one of my early efforts, questioned a statement I had made: "Johnson opined that..." etc., etc. He said he knew Jack Johnson very well and doubted that he ever "opined" anything. Thus ended my attempt to incorporate unusual words in that paper or in other papers that followed. The message imparted was to state things simply, understandably, and in every-day language. Carl (Speed) Marvel read another of my early papers in manuscript and concluded that I was trying to prove two major points. His message was that I should compose the results in two separate papers because readers seldom remembered more than one conclusion from a single paper.
R.C. Fuson offered to criticize a review paper I had written. When I returned to his office to obtain his recommendations, I was very disappointed because he offered no substantive revisions at all, yet I knew my first attempt at reviewing all known information about a particular series of compounds could not have been that perfect. I was about to leave when I told him that I was disappointed because I had really come to him for instructive, serious criticism. "Oh, in that case...," he said as he opened his desk drawer and withdrew two sheets of handwriting. Fuson indicated that my writing was like a collection of reference cards. Improvements were suggested to omit the dates (years) of publication, as well as the locations and names of the authors, with which I had started each paragraph. Instead, the subject matter was supposed to guide the ending of one paragraph and the beginning of the next, so that the article "flowed." Terminal references would disclose all the details of origin. In the rewrite, the pedantic, unimaginative collation of data was converted to a critical, adhering discussion. Fuson sometimes wrote verse under the name Robert Fox. The surname could be applied in this case of requested and reluctantly supplied advice. I followed that advice in all my later writings in which I was recounting prior scientific history. By the time I had absorbed these writing lessons, I had the temerity to rewrite a joint paper that my senior colleague Charlie Price had presented to me in first draft and on which I was supposed to be a co-author.
Whenever Roger Adams in a note or in conversation with you, started out with "it has come to my attention," you knew you might be in for a spot of trouble. My first IHCTMA referred to my impatience with certain secretaries and storeroom clerks and my voluble complaints against them. Adams pointed out to me that, as employees of the State of Illinois, they had tenure; as an assistant professor, I did not. "Was that clear?" Then, he relented and invited me to come into his office with any legitimate complaint and to pound on his desk. He said, "I have tenure, and I can do something about a staff member's deficiency." I never had to pound on his desk. When I rose (slowly, it may be added) to the status of membership of the Graduate College Faculty, I was able to accept the talented graduate students who were suddenly available in large numbers. After 13 had started to work with me, Professor Adams, in a second IHCTMA, indicated that the number seemed excessive. I believe I answered rather naively that I had several more exciting research ideas to offer to graduate students. He then pointed out the difficulties of starting such a large number at one time, of directing their work from day to day, of substituting new research ideas for those problems that would falter, of supporting so many, and of finishing off their PhD degrees, including reading and correcting their theses and conducting their final exams. Additionally, Adams suggested that a more rational number of graduate students to accept in one year could be obtained by dividing the number of organic chemists entering graduate school by the number of faculty members who could direct their research. All of that advice made good sense, and I have given it to junior colleagues whenever it seemed appropriate.
If Dr. Adams found his students engaged in a poker game in the laboratory when he visited them on a Saturday or Sunday, he would ask to sit in on the game. Invariably, the students would discover that it was wicked to gamble (and lose). When I asked permission to be away from Urbana in February, 1947, to travel to New York City to meet my fiancée, who was arriving from The Netherlands via Sweden by ship, he asked whether I had arranged for Bob Frank to do substitute lecturing for me. When I answered that I had taken care of all my teaching obligations, he responded with "You must meet your fiancée if she is indeed coming to America for the first time!" I thought I was safely on my way; however, just as I reached the door of his office, he said, "Oh, Nelson, I am chairman of the program committee of the Urbana Rotary Club this Spring. Would you be willing to sing at one of our luncheon meetings?" Yes, I was willing! It was with some poignancy that I relate his last words to me. He was terminally ill with cancer in a nursing home, and his daughter Lucile was spoon-feeding him baby food. When I came into the room, he said between spoonfuls, "Nels, I would ask you to share my lunch, but I don't think you would like it."
The business about it being wicked to gamble and lose was related to a quotation from Carl S. Marvel. In remembering "Speed" Marvel, we may well recall a few of his favorite sayings, but some may have become entwined with the aphorisms of Mark Twain, another man who crossed the Mississippi River. "Anyone is a fool to go into academic work. All good chemistry is done in industry. If chemistry isn't fun, it shouldn't be done. Insurance is useless due to inflation with the Democratic (or Republican) Party in power. Membership in a scientific honor society is like a pair of pants - you don't get any credit for it but you would look funny without it." His advice to a department head (Herbert E. Carter) included the following messages: "Keep committees to a minimum. They seldom create new ideas and are too often swayed by the most aggressive talker. Never take a vote until you know you have a good majority on your side. Never ask the Provost for less than you need, but always supply documentation. Don't ask for funds to do something - start doing something, even at a sacrifice, and ask for funds to continue and expand a promising activity. Know your faculty and keep track especially of the young chemists."
Speed could drink the hottest coffee and consume the largest amount of popcorn. He was fond of guiding his colleagues through the Greek alphabet and of interjecting Latin quotations. He teased us with statements of the wonderful chemistry they were doing at DuPont that he wished he could tell us about. In answer to our random complaints, he had lived through a bigger snowstorm, had had a worse graduate student (who improved dramatically) and a worse secretary (who responded to training), and always felt old (while doing the work of at least three young people). In remembrance of Speed Marvel, we smile for someone we really cared for and who cared for all of us. The lasting words that he gave me were "Remember that our major product is our students."
The citation of 1986 when he received the National Medal of Science was: "For leading us into the Polymer Age through his researches on polymers, including synthetic rubber; for helping us into the Space Age through his development of thermally stabile polymers; for his many services to the chemical profession; and for educating and inspiring three generations of chemists."
Charles C. Price, III, told me that Speed had influenced his career by saying, "If you are going to study reaction mechanisms, you might as well do so for important reactions: polymerizations." He and his students did study addition polymerization at Illinois, especially end group analysis. His student Royston Roberts discovered a key step in the synthesis of the antimalarial Chloroquine, and I joined the Price and Snyder groups in manufacturing kilo supplies of the quinoline ring portion. During World War II, Charlie Price's group was also engaged in the study of Sulfur and Nitrogen Mustards, which required the upgrading of the Noyes hoods. His advice to me was "Just work hard. Enjoy the chemistry you are doing. Your academic future will take care of itself." His future was to be at Notre Dame and the University of Pennsylvania.
Charlie Price and Harold Snyder had spent a year together as labmates as Roger Adams' postdoctorates. Harold assembled and maintained a group of industrious, dedicated, and loyal research students. When Harold was not at his office desk editing chapters and chapters of "Organic Reactions," the first volume of which was published in 1942, he was likely to be found in the library or in the laboratory across the hall from his office in Noyes Laboratory. There he tried out new reactions on a test-tube scale before he assigned problems to students, especially undergraduate research students. He explained that "It is wise to generate a bit of optimism at the start of a research problem." He inspired his students to follow their own ideas, stressed that research was a learning experience for them, and he was always willing to take an extra step on their behalf. For me, he was tolerant (of my singing in the laboratory next to his office), generous (my wife-to-be lived with the Snyders for three months prior to our marriage), and helpful (he got me involved in "Organic Syntheses" - another first for Adams in 1920). I still recall his dry wit and his propensity for engaging in practical jokes, often well-staged and elaborate.
I mentioned earlier the review-writing advice I received from Reynold C. Fuson ("Bob" Fuson). He was especially effective in his precise lecturing and in his direction of the research of senior undergraduates, one of whom, Robert Holley (A. B., 1942) went on to win a Nobel Prize. His graduate students did prize-winning research on stable enols and enediols. Although Fuson had an avowed low opinion of physical chemistry and of explanations of reaction mechanisms in orbital terms, he contributed to our knowledge, with C.C. Price, of the mechanism of action of Nitrogen Mustards (OSRD work, 1944). He elicited the principle of vinylogy (1933) only slightly later than Robert Robinson's parallel description (1932) of anionoid and cationoid behavior, with its curved arrows. He was one of the participants in the determination of the structure of the German nerve gas, a sample of which had been obtained from a railroad train captured in northern Germany during the war. Bob Fuson had a great love of music, ability in speaking both Italian and Spanish, a tendency to spend part of each summer amid the art of Florence, and a facility with shorthand sufficient to speed up the typing of the many recommendation letters he had to write. He freely offered his analytical samples to me for an almost instant publication that I could then write on the ultraviolet absorption spectra of hindered benzils. When I naturally offered to place his name on the paper, he demurred, saying, "Not necessary. I am just your colleague." I spent many enjoyable evenings listening to music with Bob Fuson and Sherlock Swann.
Based on an original volume of Professor Oliver Kamm, Ralph Shriner and Bob Fuson wrote a popular textbook on qualitative organic analysis that was a marvelous teaching tool. It was improved later by David Curtin when he joined the Chemistry staff of the University of Illinois and introduced the "why" of relative reaction rates to explain the observations. Other very successful textbooks came out of Noyes Laboratory during those years. In organic chemistry, there was the classic undergraduate text by Fuson and Snyder, an advanced text by Fuson, an organic laboratory manual by Adams and Johnson (Jack Johnson of Cornell had been a former student and staff member at Illinois). Herbert Laitinen produced a definitive volume on analytical chemistry, and Therald Moeller, one on inorganic chemistry. My enumeration will be recognized as incomplete, but omissions may be regarded as allowable within the purvey of my title, "The Voices I Still Hear." One text is associated with a ghostly voice: "Principles of Ionic Organic Reactions" by Elliot Alexander (4th printing in 1960). Elliot's very popular text had grown out of a seminar he taught for graduate students and seniors at the U. of I. The students did literature searches on chapter subjects and contributed rough drafts. These were checked and improved by Elliot, who wrote them in final form as course notes. Tragically, Elliot and his wife died in the fall of 1950 when the small plane he was piloting crashed on a mountaintop between Johnstown and State College, PA, in bad weather. I doubt that he had instrument rating because he used to talk to us about "following roads and Illinois towns from the air." Those are the words that I still hear, plus those of his mother, spoken at the Connecticut graveside by Lennie Miller and myself. "Oh, dear, they have placed a second 't' on Elliot's name (in the brass lettering on the casket)."
David Y. Curtin returned to Illinois following his postdoctoral experience at Harvard and a few years on the chemistry staff of Columbia University. He brought refreshing innovation to - teaching and research, assuring that the U. of I. had a recognized status in physical organic chemistry. The "voice" I hear, however, reverts to his graduate student days at Illinois, when one could hear him playing the flute in the organic laboratory on the second floor of Noyes, NE corner, on Sunday mornings.
Junior faculty members were generally recruited following the recommendations of professors at other institutions. In the case of E. J. Corey, the process evolved rather differently and was actually initiated by the statements of M.I.T. undergraduates who were coming to Illinois for their graduate work in organic chemistry. I happened to be in charge of advising first year students at the time. I would ask those from M.I.T., "Wasn't it great to be taught by Roberts, Sheehan, Cope, Swain, and Buchi?" The students' words, which I still hear, followed the general line: "They are great, but they are never around. The person who is most helpful to talk to, especially about research, either undergraduate or graduate, is one of John Sheehan's graduate students, E. J. Corey. He knows what everyone is doing in the laboratory and he always makes helpful suggestions." Corey was not the candidate suggested to Adams by Art Cope, and Adams was upset when I passed along the MIT students' unanimous opinion. In telephone conversation between Adams and Cope, the latter agreed that E. J. Corey "was the chemist most likely to succeed in an academic career." Indeed he was, as the later Nobel Prize and Japan Prize abundantly confirmed. Well, that changed the picture, and Adams went off to Harvard with faculty approval to hire E.J. if he liked him. He did like him and he did hire him.
E.J.'s citation for the National Medal of Science in 1988 read: "For his strikingly original contributions to organic synthesis, which have brought the science of organic chemistry to a new level of power and precision."
Corey's brilliant research with seniors, graduate students, post-doctorates and colleagues from abroad attracted wide attention very rapidly. While still an assistant professor at the U. of I., he was offered a full professorship at the University of Chicago at $12,000 a year. I polled the organic chemistry professors to get approval for our trying to match the offer. I then went to E.J. to tell him I was going to try to match. He told me that I shouldn't take the time. That was sufficient challenge for me and for Herb Carter, then the Head, who went to bat with the Dean and with the Provost. When the equivalent counter offer was in place, I went back to Speed Marvel, asking him whether he really approved of E.J.'s receiving a higher salary than his. His reply: "Oh, hell yes. Then, next year you should tell the Dean that a gross injustice has been done and that the old professor's salary has to be raised to compensate for his junior colleague's raise."
The other senior staff members were equally generous, and we all benefitted. Nevertheless, there was no matching of Harvard's offer two years later. We were not given the opportunity. E.J. has remained very loyal to the U. of I. - and has provided us with excellent staff members. I still remember that he did his own experiments in the tiny southeast corner of the first floor of Noyes and that his group filled the basement corner. He taught an ad hoc course in quantum mechanics for organic chemists from which fellow staff members were excused if they did not keep up with the reading assignments, I among them. New voices were added to the Illinois chorus: Doug Applequist, Ken Rinehart, J.C. Martin, Stan Smith, Peter Beak, and Bob Coates, all contributing special improvements to Noyes Lab and benefits to the Department of Chemistry and the School of Chemical Sciences.
During my early years at the University of Illinois, Biochemistry was housed on the fourth floor of Noyes Laboratory. William C. Rose, who had come to the U. of I. in 1922, was the senior professor of biochemistry and also acting Head of the Department during 1942-1946, while he served on the Food and Nutrition Board of the National Research Council during 1940-1947. He worked on pepsin, creatin and creatinin, and purine metabolism to uric acid, but his major contributions were in the quantitation of the essential amino acids in rats, in dogs, and in man (with the graduate students as individual reaction vessels) and in their intermediate metabolism. His citation for the National Medal of Science, received in 1966, was as follows: "For the discovery of the essential amino acid threonine and for the subsequent brilliant studies elucidating the qualitative and quantitative amino acid requirements of man and of animals."
At the celebration of Rose's 90th birthday, he was given the opportunity of responding to kudos and did so with a remarkable description of what it was like to do research. Walking home after the celebration, my wife said to me, "Nels, if you had ever described your work with such enthusiasm, I might have become a chemist or biochemist!"
It was Herbert E. Carter working with Will Rose who had done the research on threonine, including synthesis, and had migrated from the biochemistry of amino acids to that of the brain lipids and fatty acid metabolism. His contributions to antibiotic research were prodigious during the war. Incidentally, he was the first to point out the special properties of what are now called prochiral molecules, which he did for me when we were bowling one Wednesday night. On the staff from 1932, he became Head of the Department in 1954 and then Director of the School of Chemical Sciences. Granting that I was a reasonably good chemist, he tried to assist me in becoming a better bowler, golfer, and squash player. There are good stories behind (1) his obtaining for us the right to show our own slides in seminars, an earlier province of members of the electricians' union, and (2) his convincing the director of the U. of I. physical plant that we should name the unit construction adviser to the architectural firm that was designing what would become the Roger Adams Laboratory. I have already mentioned (3) his jump support of E. J. Corey. These were bold acts that we have savored in remembrance when we have visited each other on the eastern shore of Lake Michigan. It was the voice of Carl Vestling, a third member of the Biochemistry team, that told me in 1952 that my favorite house in Urbana (adjacent to his) was for sale and that I might be able to buy it. His was my neighborly voice.
Therald Moeller in Inorganic Chemistry was an earlier neighborly voice, for he had alerted me to the expected vacancy of a first floor apartment in 1947 within easy walking distance of Noyes Laboratory. It is again apparent to me as I speak of the voices that I still hear that the faculty members took care of each other in many ways. Therald was also a guide in helping me set up some basicity determinations that had to be very accurate. John C. Bailar's contributions to the Department (Head of the summer session, for example), to teaching, and to the guidance of research students are legendary. He is regarded as the "father" of coordination chemistry, and his analysis, with E. J. Corey, of the conformations of organometallic compounds is a classic. He was also the producer of a record number of presidents of the American Chemical Society. His advice in general was fatherly.
Theodore L. Brown contributed a textbook in general chemistry that has had many, many printings. He and I collaborated in research establishing, by dipole moment measurements, the conformations of medium-sized ring compounds with electron donor and acceptor groups on opposite sides of the ring. He had wise words of advice and revisionary suggestions about courses and administration that may not have been taken seriously enough at first, when he lacked tenure. In time, however, his valuable guidance was recognized, and he went on to become Dean of the Graduate School and then Director of the Beckman Institute. I remember happily his cinematic greeting to me when I was celebrating my 75th birthday.
George L. Clark and I talked mainly about music. He was a cellist. As Head of Analytical Chemistry, his research interests were mainly in electron microscopy and powder x-ray determinations. G. Frederick Smith in quantitative analysis, of perchlorate chemistry fame and a helpful adviser on the subject, was a very early (1928) example of a professor who also directed a company. It is said that part of the high combustibility of Noyes Laboratory was due to perchlorates absorbed in the flooring. Herbert Laitinen brought analytical research into strong reputation by his work on polarography, electrochemistry of fused salts, and electrodeposition of metals. He worked diligently on the design of the new laboratory, as did J.C. Martin, Ed Cavanaugh, and I. In performing as part of a purposeful group for nine years, those voices blended into a trusted quartet, to good result. Howard Malmstadt introduced the study of electronics, both theoretical and practical to training in analytical chemistry.
The Unit Operations Laboratory in Chemical Engineering was first located in the southeast corner of Noyes Laboratory, in part occupying two floors. It was the pride of Donald B. Keyes, Head of the Division from 1926 to 1945. Don Keyes became Chief Chemist of the Industries Branch of the Office of Production, Research, and Development (OPRD) during the war. In 1945 we traveled together to London, Oxford, Frankfurt and Paris with a Field Intelligence Unit attached to the U.S. Army, and I benefited from his stories, his garrulous nature, and his top travel-priority rating. H. Fraser Johnstone came to Illinois in 1928 and worked on corrosion, the absorption of gases, aerosols, and the treatment of waste gas. He was Chairman of the Research Advisory Council of the Chemical Corps, U.S. Army, and during the war his contributions were locally visible in the form of multicolored flares (for aircraft guidance) that were being exploded in a southern extension of the campus. Head of the Chemical Engineering Division from 1953, Fraser Johnstone kept us informed as to the difficulties and progress of the committee trying to control smog in Southern California. He was an important - and effective member of that committee.
Sherlock Swann carved out, within Chemical Engineering, a special area of organic electrochemistry, in which he became a world authority. We did some work together on the electroreduction of alpha-aminoketones, wherein he derived pleasure from comparison of the effect of different cathodes, and my students and I, from the new method available for synthesizing medium-sized rings thereby containing nitrogen. I had as many conversations with Sherlock about Virgil Thompson's articles of music criticism as I did about electrochemistry.
Harry G. Drickamer came to the University of Illinois in 1946 as an Assistant Professor of Chemical Engineering. Harry's unpretentious brilliance, his straightforwardness, and his ready wit made him an attractive, amusing, and interesting colleague. Through our 56 years of friendship, I relied upon him for advice, criticism, and support, and for his cooperation in many institutional enterprises. In the period 1948-52, when Harry was first starting his work to 12 kilobars of pressure, he was, except for Bridgman, virtually the only person doing static high pressure studies of physical (or chemical) properties above 5 kilobars. High pressure was then regarded only as a means of measuring thermodynamic and other bulk properties of matter and was not of general interest. He provided the first example of pressure tuning spectroscopy, opening up an entire field based upon the use of high pressure to alter interatomic and intermolecular distances and to uncover thereby all manner of electronic, atomic, and molecular phenomena. When Harry initiated his research involving the development of new apparatus and new techniques for high pressure spectroscopy, he was visited by Frederick Seitz, then Dean of the Graduate School of the University of Illinois. Asked by Professor Seitz to describe his intended research, Harry was so convincing in his knowledge and purpose that Seitz responded with a generous starter grant from the Graduate Research Board. So it was that Harry never lacked for research funding during all his Illinois years; moreover, his presence on institutional grant requests guaranteed that some of his scientific colleagues would fare well. He was the best research collaborator in the School of Chemical Sciences with colleagues in Physics, Engineering, and Inorganic, Organic, and Physical Chemistry.
The influence of Drickamer's pioneering research has been extremely broad, ranging from physical chemistry, biophysics, and molecular biology to solid state physics and electronics. The use of pressure tuning spectroscopy to investigate biomolecules, has spread to at least 50 laboratories worldwide. In addition to sessions at general high pressure conferences, there have been specialized conferences on high pressure in biochemistry and molecular biology and there are now annual meetings of the European High Pressure Research Group, the Japanese High Pressure Group, and the Gordon Conferences on High Pressure Research. There have also been a series of NATO Advanced Institutes on High Pressure in Chemistry, Biochemistry, and Materials Science. There exist two international journals devoted to high pressure as well as national journals in China and Japan. An international school (III) was held in Warsaw, Poland, in September, 1999. All of this started with Harry Drickamer's initial research in Noyes Laboratory, 1946. He never let me forget what he was doing in the laboratory. Every time I sent him a copy of my travel itinerary so that he could keep track of me, he responded with a batch of his latest preprints, to be followed in good time with the corresponding reprints. Did I read them all? I had to! There would be brief reviews each time we met or talked on the telephone. Harry was a frank evaluator of the potential of others, whether in research, administration, writing, getting a job done on time, and in sensing whether a scientist or historian or athletic fan really knew what he was talking about. I took a lot of teasing and insulting from Harry, but regarded it as aggressive affection, and I appreciated the fact that he regarded me worth teasing in this way.
I am followed by Harry's voice in a graphic statement that pertains to the British sense of humor and proceeds as follows:
"If you want to make an Englishman happy in his old age, tell him a good joke on his youth."
These words would be followed by Harry's version pertaining to his colleagues' sense of humor:
"If you want to amuse a colleague, tell him a joke.
If you want to give him more amusement, tell him the same joke again.
Why? He may get it the second time."
When he wanted to terminate a conversation, he sometimes said in parting:
"Sorry, I have to go now to flog a student."
The citation for Harry's National Medal of Science in 1989 says it all rather simply: "For the discovery of the 'pressure tuning' of electronic energy levels as a way to obtain new and unique information on the electronic structure of solids."
Harry was also a professor of Physical Chemistry. During my time in Noyes Laboratory, Frederick T. Wall, Herbert S. Gutowsky, and Peter Yankwich added luster to that discipline, to be followed by others who brought the disciplines within chemistry more in balance than they had been initially. Nobel prizes have been garnered by a former PhD student, Phillip Sharp, and by a former staff member, Rudolph A. Marcus. The citation for Rudy's National Medal of Science awarded in 1989 read: "For his fundamental, far-reaching, and eminently useful developments of theories of unimolecular reactions and of electron transfers in chemistry and biochemistry."
If a prize were to be given for sense of humor, Rudy could win that as well.
Fred Wall supplied theory for all polymerizations and led the physical chemistry portion of the Rubber Program during the War. According to the students, his teaching of thermodynamics was absolutely super. His personal quality of exactitude, in early years, encouraged some practical jokes. Peter Yankwich, who later made an impact through the National Science Foundation on the teaching of science and of chemistry in the United States, helped us socially for a time by guiding a burgeoning Faculty Club.
Herb Gutowsky performed a great service, together with his students and followers, of transferring NMR from the purvey of theoretical physicists to the practice of chemists, laying the foundation for the origin of chemical shifts and their use in chemistry; the existence and origin of spin-spin couplings between nuclei in molecules in liquids; the use of NMR to study structure and motion in solids; the use of NMR to study chemical exchange processes and conformation changes. The citation for his National Medal of Science (1976) read simply: "In recognition of pioneering studies in the field of nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy."
Especially under the leadership of Herb Carter and Herb Gutowsky, the University of Illinois could claim a primary place in the instrumentation available for research, along with all service facilities.
I have been trying to indicate the diversity of the Chemistry, Biochemistry and Chemical Engineering that was housed in Noyes Laboratory, as suggested by the different professors and, somewhat imperfectly and incompletely, by the voices I still hear. A further, special example of diversity, was in what happened in 1950 on the third floor of Noyes. A quantum leap in quality of the Microbiology Department took place with the hiring of I.C. Gunsalus, Salvador E. Luria and Sol Speigelman. These colleagues, with their students, operated in cramped space until new quarters became available together with other components of the School of Life Sciences. The breadth of accomplishment of these Noyes-belonging faculty members did not go unnoticed. Gunny later moved into position as Head of Biochemistry and continued to add distinguished faculty to that discipline. His lesson to me involved how to do something ambitious and possibly important.
Salvador Luria showed a unique ability, in the University Senate, of steering parliamentary procedure in a useful fashion. In Medicine, he received the Nobel Prize after he had moved to M.I.T. He had also been the mentor of another Nobel Prize winner, James Watson. Luria's citation for the National Medal of Science, awarded to him in 1991, read: "For a lifetime devoted to applying genetics to viruses and bacteria and for guiding the development of generations of students who have helped create the modern power of molecular biology."
Sol Speigelman always gave the impression that he was doing a crucial experiment and, indeed, he probably was. He went from Illinois to the Medical School of Columbia University where, as an M.D., it was possible for him to continue cancer research with human subjects.
Diversity was also to be found in the students who spent part of their existence in Noyes Laboratory. The undergraduates, industrious and eager in general, came from Illinois cities, towns, and rural communities. The graduate students came from the great universities and distinguished colleges of the country. Any measure of greatness that accords to the University of Illinois in the Chemical Sciences started with staff and student inhabitants of Noyes Laboratory. During the academic year 1907-1908, the first year on campus of William A. Noyes, so said the Alumni Quarterly, 180 students from 52 different colleges and universities other than the University of Illinois were enrolled here in graduate work. President Charles W. Eliot, visiting that autumn from Harvard, "was deeply impressed" with the budget of $50,000 per year. To a convocation of the students of the University of Illinois, he made the statement:
"Do your work as if you hoped to realize perfection. That is what brings joy and contentment in life."
Those are words that we should continue to "hear"!
-Nelson Leonard, September 13, 2002