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Photograph of Norman Hackerman
CHF Collections, Photograph by Douglas A. Lockard

Oral history interview with Norman Hackerman

  • 2002-Mar-12

Oral history interview with Norman Hackerman

  • 2002-Mar-12

Norman Hackerman begins the interview with a description of his graduate education at Johns Hopkins University and his encounters with Neil E. Gordon. After graduating from Johns Hopkins with a Ph.D. in chemistry, Hackerman became a steady participant of the Gordon Research Conferences [GRC], particularly the Corrosion Conference, which he chaired in 1950. Hackerman recalls that the early conferences were helpful to his scientific research, and that the atmosphere was informal and interactive. He also explains that as the numbers of attendees, disciplines, and locations of the conferences increased, the conference atmosphere became a more formal, lecture-type setting. Hackerman discusses some of the activities of the GRC board of trustees, on which he served as a member from 1970 to 1973. From attendee to conference chairman to trustee, Hackerman watched GRC evolve into an international organization that brings together thousands of individuals from academe, government, and industry. Hackerman concludes the interview by commenting on the important role that GRC plays in public education and public understanding of science.

Property Value
Place of interview
  • 32 pages
Rights Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License
Rights holder
  • Science History Institute
Credit line
  • Courtesy of Science History Institute

About the Interviewers

Arthur Daemmrich is an assistant professor in the Business, Government, and International Economy Unit at Harvard Business School and a senior research fellow at the Chemical Heritage Foundation. His research examines science, medicine, and the state, with a focus on advancing theories of risk and regulation through empirical research on the pharmaceutical, biotechnology, and chemical sectors. At HBS he also plays an active role in an interdisciplinary Healthcare Initiative, advancing scholarship and developing applied lessons for the business of creating and delivering health services and health-related technologies. Daemmrich was previously the director of the Center for Contemporary History and Policy at the Chemical Heritage Foundation. He earned a PhD in Science and Technology Studies from Cornell University in 2002 and has held fellowships at the Social Science Research Council/Berlin Program for Advanced German and European Studies, the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, and the Chemical Heritage Foundation. He has published widely on pharmaceutical and chemical regulation, biotechnology business and policy, innovation, and history of science.

Arnold Thackray founded the Chemical Heritage Foundation and served the organization as president for 25 years. He is currently CHF’s chancellor. Thackray received MA and PhD degrees in history of science from Cambridge University. He has held appointments at Cambridge, Oxford University, and Harvard University, the Institute for Advanced Study, the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences, and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. In 1983 Thackray received the Dexter Award from the American Chemical Society for outstanding contributions to the history of chemistry. He served for more than a quarter century on the faculty of the University of Pennsylvania, where he was the founding chairman of the Department of History and Sociology of Science and is currently the Joseph Priestley Professor Emeritus.

Institutional location

Oral history number 0237

Related Items

Interviewee biographical information

  • March 02, 1912
  • Baltimore, Maryland, United States
  • June 16, 2007
  • Temple, Texas, United States


Year Institution Degree Discipline
1932 Johns Hopkins University AB Chemistry
1935 Johns Hopkins University PhD Chemistry

Professional Experience

Loyola College in Maryland

  • 1935 to 1939 Assistant Professor of Chemistry

Colloid Corporation

  • 1936 to 1940 Research Chemist

United States. Coast Guard

  • 1939 to 1941 Assistant Chemist

Virginia Polytechnic Institute

  • 1941 to 1943 Assistant Professor of Chemistry

Kellex Corporation

  • 1944 to 1945 Research Chemist

University of Texas at Austin

  • 1945 to 1946 Assistant Professor of Chemistry
  • 1946 to 1950 Associate Professor of Chemistry
  • 1948 to 1961 Director, Corrosion Research Laboratory
  • 1950 to 1970 Professor of Chemistry
  • 1952 to 1961 Chairman, Chemistry Department
  • 1960 to 1961 Dean of Research and Sponsored Programs
  • 1961 to 1963 Vice President and Provost
  • 1963 to 1967 Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs
  • 1967 to 1970 President
  • 1985 Professor Emeritus of Chemistry

Rice University

  • 1970 to 1985 President
  • 1970 to 1985 Professor of Chemistry
  • 1985 President Emeritus
  • 1985 Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Chemistry

Robert A. Welch Foundation

  • 1982 Chairman, Scientific Advisory Board


Year(s) Award
1956 Whitney Award, National Association of Corrosion Engineers
1964 Joseph L. Mattiello Award
1965 Palladium Medal, The Electrochemical Society
1965 Southwest Regional Award, American Chemical Society
1972 LLD, St. Edwards University
1975 DSc, Austin College
1975 Honor Scroll, Texas Institute of Chemists
1978 DSc, Texas Christian University
1978 LLD, Abilene Christian University
1978 Gold Medal, American Institute of Chemists
1981 Mirabeau B. Lamar Award, Association of Texas Colleges and Universities
1982 Distinguished Alumnus Award, Johns Hopkins University
1984 Edward Goodrich Acheson Award, The Electrochemical Society
1984 Alumni Gold Medal for Distinguished Service, Rice University
1987 Charles Lathrop Parsons Award
1987 Philip Hauge Abelson Prize, American Association for the Advancement of Science
1993 Vannevar Bush Award, National Science Board
1993 Doctor of Public Service, University of North Texas
1993 National Medal of Science
1999 Texas Distinguished Scientist Award, Texas Academy of Science

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PDF — 200 KB

The published version of the transcript may diverge from the interview audio due to edits to the transcript made by staff of the Center for Oral History, often at the request of the interviewee, during the transcript review process.

Complete Interview Audio File Web-quality download

3 Separate Interview Segments Archival-quality downloads