Oral history interview with L. Louis Hegedus

Oral history interview with L. Louis Hegedus

  • 2013-Dec-05 (First session)
  • 2013-Dec-06 (Second session)

L. Louis Hegedus grew up in Szolnok, Hungary. After completing the chemical engineering program of the Technical University of Budapest, he was recruited to work at the Research Institute for the Organic Chemical Industry, where he helped develop a polyester process. After touring Europe, Hegedus secured a job as a chemical engineer at Daimler-Benz in Mannheim, Germany. He was next accepted into the chemical engineering PhD program at University of California, Berkeley. He published seven papers from his dissertation and wrote the first book on catalyst poisoning. Hegedus next worked on the catalytic converter for General Motors, then accepted a job as a director of central research at W. R. Grace and Company. He was then recruited to be research vice president for North America at Elf Atochem. Hegedus has retired and founded his own consulting firm, and been a Distinguished Visiting Fellow at the Research Triangle Institute.

Property Value
Place of interview
  • 88 pages
Rights Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License
Rights holder
  • Science History Institute
Credit line
  • Courtesy of Science History Institute
Digitization funder
  • Audio synchronization made possible through the generous funding of the National Historical Publications and Records Commission.

About the Interviewers

Hilary Domush was a Program Associate in the Center for Oral History at CHF from 2007–2015. Previously, she earned a BS in chemistry from Bates College in Lewiston, Maine in 2003.  She then completed an MS in chemistry and an MA in history of science both from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.  Her graduate work in the history of science focused on early nineteenth-century chemistry in the city of Edinburgh, while her work in the chemistry was in a total synthesis laboratory.  At CHF, she worked on projects such as the Pew Biomedical Scholars, Women in Chemistry, Atmospheric Science, and Catalysis.

Jacqueline Boytim is a program associate in the Institute for Research at the Science History Institute. Before joining the Institute for Research, Boytim worked in visitor services in our museum. She earned her bachelor’s degree in Science, Technology, and Society at the University of Pennsylvania.

Physical location

Oral history number 0810

Related Items

Interviewee biographical information

  • April 13, 1941
  • Budapest, Hungary
  • May 24, 2017
  • Pasadena, California, United States


Year Institution Degree Discipline
1964 Budapesti Műszaki Egyetem Dipl Ing Chemical Engineering
1972 University of California, Berkeley PhD Chemical Engineering

Professional Experience

Research Institute for the Organic Chemical Industry

  • 1964 to 1965 Research Engineer, Petrochemical Process Research

Daimler-Benz Aktiengesellschaft

  • 1965 to 1968 Group Leader, Materials Testing

General Motors Corporation. Research Laboratories

  • 1972 to 1974 Associate Senior Research Engineer
  • 1974 to 1975 Senior Research Engineer and Group Leader
  • 1975 to 1980 Departmental Research Engineer, Catalysis Research

W.R. Grace & Co.

  • 1980 to 1984 Director, Inorganic Research
  • 1984 to 1995 Vice President, Inorganic Research
  • 1995 to 1996 Vice President, Corporate Technical Group

Elf Atochem

  • 1996 to 2001 Vice President, Research and Development
  • 2001 to 2006 Senior Vice President, Research and Development

Louis Hegedus, LLC

  • 2006 President

RTI International

  • 2010 to 2013 Distinguished Visiting Fellow


Year(s) Award
1978 Chemical Engineer of the Year, American Institute of Chemical Engineers, Detroit Section
1980 Professional Progress Award, American Institute of Chemical Engineers
1981 Chemtech Progress Award, American Chemical Society
1988 R. H. Wilhelm Award, American Institute of Chemical Engineers
1989 Elected member, National Academy of Engineering
1991 Honorary Doctor of Engineering, Technical University of Budapest
1994 Honorary Member, Romanian Catalysis Society
1999 R&D 100 Award for novel method for asbestos abatement, shared with team members at W. R. Grace, R&D Magazine
1999 Honorary Member, Hungarian National Academy of Engineering
2000 Catalysis and Reaction Engineering Practice Award, American Institute of Chemical Engineers
2005 Award of Merit in Appreciation of Contributions Rendered for the Continuing Advancement of Chemical Engineering, Chemical Marketing Economics Group, American Chemical Society
2006 Management Division Award, American Institute of Chemical Engineers
2008 Selected to be one of One Hundred Chemical Engineers of the Modern Era, American Institute of Chemical Engineers
2014 Elected Corresponding Member, Academy of Athens (Greece)

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PDF — 913 KB
hegedus_l_0810_updated_ full.pdf

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

5 Separate Interview Segments Archival-quality downloads