Oral history interview with Stephanie L. Kwolek (1986)
Stephanie Kwolek starts this interview by describing her family background. Her father's early death meant that her mother had to work to support Kwolek and her brother, who later became a chemical engineer. At the Carnegie Institute of Technology, Kwolek shifted her interests from medicine to chemistry. Deciding to enter industry, she accepted a position with the Rayon Department of DuPont at Buffalo. There, she started her career in polymer synthesis and worked with Izard, Wittbecker, and Morgan. When the laboratory moved to Wilmington, Kwolek was associated with the low -temperature polymerization program. In the interview, Kwolek then discusses the nylon rope trick, DuPont promotion policy, and liquid crystalline polymers. She concludes with her reflections on colleagues and DuPont consultants.
|Place of interview|
|Rights||Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License|
About the Interviewer
Raymond C. Ferguson obtained his degrees in chemistry from Iowa State University (BS, MS) and Harvard University (PhD). He worked in research divisions of the Organic Chemicals, Elastomer Chemicals, and Central Research Departments of DuPont, principally in molecular spectroscopy, organic structure analysis, and polymer characterization. Currently he is affiliated with CONDUX, Inc., a consulting association of former DuPont professionals.
|Oral history number||0028|
Interviewee biographical information
|1946||Carnegie Mellon University||BS||Chemistry|
E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Company
- 1946 to 1959 Chemist
- 1959 to 1967 Research Chemist
- 1967 to 1974 Senior Research Chemist
- 1974 to 1986 Research Associate
- 1986 Consultant
National Academy of Sciences (U.S.)
- 1986 Research Council, Consultant
|1959||Publication Award, Delaware Section, American Chemical Society|
|1976||Howard N. Potts Medal, Franklin Institute of Philadelphia|
|1978||Award for Contributions to Kevlar (du Pont trademark for aramid fiber), American Society for Medals|
|1980||Chemical Pioneer Award, American Institute of Chemists|
|1980||Award for Creative Invention, American Chemical Society|
|1981||Honorary Doctor of Science Award, Worcester Polytechnic Institute|
|1983||Alumni Association Merit Award, Carnegie-Mellon Universit|
|1985||Engineering/Technology Award, Society of Plastics Engineers|
|1985||Polymer Processing Hall of Fame, University of Akron|
|1988||Harold DeWitt Smith Memorial Award, American Society of Testing Materials|
|1990||du Pont Honoree at the Bicentennial Celebration of the United States Patent and Copyright du Pont Honoree at the Bicentennial Celebration of the United States Patent and Copyright Laws|
|1995||Inducted member of Inventor's Hall of Fame|
|1997||Perkin Medal Society of Chemical Industry (American Section)|
See our FAQ page to learn how to cite an oral history.
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.