Oral history interview with Catherine Fenselau

Oral history interview with Catherine Fenselau

  • 2012-Apr-13 (First session)
  • 2012-Apr-14 (Second session)

Catherine Fenselau grew up in York, Nebraska. Always interested in science, first archaeology and ultimately chemistry, she attended Bryn Mawr College. The chairman of the chemistry department, Ernst Berliner, became the first of her three mentors. Fenselau received her PhD in organic chemistry from Stanford University, working in the lab of Carl Djerassi, who became her second mentor. For her postdoc at Berkeley, she entered Calvin Melvin's lab, working directly with Alma Burlingame, then at Johns Hopkins University she worked on a broad range of biomedical problems, and her research shifted its direction more toward biochemistry. Her third mentor, Paul Talalay, helped her buy her first spectrometer, which she used for bacterial analysis and for research into anti-cancer treatments. Fenselau accepted the chairmanship of the chemistry department at University of Maryland, Baltimore County, where she established a regional mass spectrometry center. She began analyzing whole proteins, publishing papers about using mass spectrometry to map protein topography and about HIV Gag proteins. Fenselau moved to University of Maryland, College Park, for a two-year stint as chairman of the chemistry department. She was involved in the study of anthrax-Amerithrax-promoting the rapid detection and characterization of bacteria with mass spectrometry and she established the US Human Proteomics Organization (USHUPO), becoming its first president. She continues to teach and to conduct research in proteomics and bioinformatics.

Place of interview
Original file type FLAC, PDF
  • 220 pages
Rights In Copyright - Non-Commercial Use Permitted
Rights holder
  • Science History Institute
Related URL
Credit line
  • Courtesy of Science History Institute

Physical location


Cite as

Catherine Fenselau, interviewed by Michael A. Grayson in University of Maryland, College Park on April 14, 2012. Philadelphia: Science History Institute, n.d. Oral History Transcript 0710. https://digital.sciencehistory.org/works/2514nm21t.

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Transcript (Published Version)

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

4 Separate Interview Segments Archival-quality downloads