Oral history interview with Stephanie L. Kwolek (1986)

Oral history interview with Stephanie L. Kwolek (1986)

  • 1986-May-04
Photograph of Stephanie Kwolek
CHF Collections, Photograph by Harry Kalish

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.

Interviewee
Interviewer
Place of interview
Format
Original file type MP3, JPEG, PDF
Genre
Extent
  • 37 pages
Language
Subject
Rights Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License
Rights holder
  • Science History Institute
Related URL
Credit line
  • Courtesy of Science History Institute

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.

Physical location

Department
Collection

Related Items

Interviewee biographical information

Born
  • July 31, 1923
  • New Kensington, Pennsylvania, United States
Died
  • June 17, 2014
  • Talleyville, Delaware, United States

Education

Year Institution Degree Discipline
1946 Carnegie Mellon University BS Chemistry

Professional Experience

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

National Academy of Sciences (U.S.)

  • 1986 Research Council, Consultant

Honors

Year(s) Award
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 Metals
1980 Chemical Pioneer Award, American Institute of Chemists
1980 Award for Creative Invention, American Chemical Society
1981 Honorary Doctor of Science degree, Worcester Polytechnic Institute
1983 Alumni Association Merit Award, Carnegie-Mellon University
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 Laws
1995 Inducted member of the Inventor's Hall of Fame
1997 Perkin Medal, Society of Chemical Industry (American Section)

Cite as

Stephanie Kwolek, interviewed by Raymond C. Ferguson in Sharpley, Delaware on May 4, 1986. Philadelphia: Science History Institute, n.d. Oral History Transcript 0028. https://digital.sciencehistory.org/works/d217qq72t.

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PDF — 232 KB
kwolek_sl_0028_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

4 Separate Interview Segments Archival-quality downloads