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Photograph of Raphael Katzen
Detail of Image, CHF Collections

Oral history interview with Raphael Katzen

  • 2000-Oct-20 (First session)
  • 2001-Feb-02 (Second session)

Oral history interview with Raphael Katzen

  • 2000-Oct-20 (First session)
  • 2001-Feb-02 (Second session)

Donald Katz starts the interview by briefly referring to his current projects but then describes his family background and his genealogical interests, stimulated by his 1952 trip to his father's birthplace in a German village. Katz entered the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor and majored in chemical engineering. As he continued into graduate studies, Donald Katz acted as George Brown's assistant, helping other graduate students and junior faculty, and with patent cases. When Katz started his research career at Phillips Petroleum he was assigned to reservoir studies. An invitation by Brown brought Katz back to the University of Michigan. The war years altered some of his teaching and research responsibilities and led him, for instance, into heat transfer investigations. On Brown's promotion to Dean, Katz took over as departmental chairman for several years. Katz describes his involvement in the introduction of computer education into the chemical engineering curriculum, both at Ann Arbor and nationally. Other recollections follow: safety and the hazards of bulk chemicals; pipelines; the underground storage of gas and air; the origins of the Handbook of Natural Gas Engineering. Katz concludes his interview with some thoughts on the changes in the academic chemical engineering profession over his long career.

Property Value
Place of interview
  • 40 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

David C. Brock is a senior research fellow with the Center for Contemporary History and Policy at the Chemical Heritage Foundation. As a historian of science and technology, he specializes in the history of semiconductor science, technology, and industry; the history of instrumentation; and oral history. Brock has studied the philosophy, sociology, and history of science at Brown University, the University of Edinburgh, and Princeton University.In the policy arena Brock recently published Patterning the World: The Rise of Chemically Amplified Photoresists, a white-paper case study for the Center’s Studies in Materials Innovation. With Hyungsub Choi he is preparing an analysis of semiconductor technology roadmapping, having presented preliminary results at the 2009 meeting of the Industry Studies Association.

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 0211

Related Items

Interviewee biographical information

  • July 28, 1915
  • Baltimore, Maryland, United States
  • July 12, 2009
  • Lee County, Florida, United States


Year Institution Degree Discipline
1936 Polytechnic Institute of New York BChE Chemical Engineering
1938 Polytechnic Institute of New York MChE Chemical Engineering
1942 Polytechnic Institute of New York DChE Chemical Engineering

Professional Experience

Northwood Chemical Company

  • 1937 to 1940 Chemical Supervisor
  • 1937 to 1940 Director of Research, Chemical Products

Diamond Alkali Company

  • 1942 to 1944 Technical Supervisor for Research and Development, Northwood Project

Vulcan-Cincinnati, Inc.

  • 1944 to 1953 Project Manager, Design and Construction
  • 1944 to 1953 Manager, Engineering Division

Raphael Katzen Associates International, Inc.

  • 1953 to 1997 Chairman and President, Consulting and Process Design
  • 1953 to 1980 Managing Partner

Raphael Katzen, P.E.

  • 1998 Consulting Engineer


Year(s) Award
1986 Chemical Engineering Professional Practice Award, American Institute of Chemical Engineers
1988 Outstanding Personal Achievement in Chemical Engineering Award, McGraw-Hill Chemical Engineering
1990 Robert L. Jacks Memorial Award, Management Division, American Institute of Chemical Engineers
1996 Election to National Academy of Engineering (Bioengineering, Chemical Engineering)
1997 C. D. Scott Award, Symposium in Biotechnology for Fuels and Chemicals
1999 Lifetime Achievement Award, Renewable Fuel Association
2000 Special Lifetime Achievement Award, Significant Contributions in Engineering Biomass-to-Chemical Processing Plants, American Chemical Society
2000 First Award of Excellence, International Fuel Ethanol Workshop
2001 Founders Award, American Institute of Chemical Engineers

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PDF — 335 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

6 Separate Interview Segments Archival-quality downloads