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Oral history interview with Harland G. Wood

  • 1990-Jan-19

Oral history interview with Harland G. Wood

  • 1990-Jan-19

Harland G. Wood begins the interview with a brief discussion of his role in the restructuring of Western Reserve University's medical curriculum. He then reflects on his childhood and education, recalling that his former Latin teacher (then, his high school principal) first sparked his interest in chemistry. He chronicles his career in chemistry and molecular biology from his college years at Macalester through his extensive laboratory research at Iowa State College, where he first developed his concept of the fixation of carbon dioxide by bacteria; the University of Minnesota, where he continued this research; various other temporary positions; and finally, his current work at Case Western Reserve University. Throughout the interview, in addition to discussing research and the influence of various colleagues and associates, he often focuses on the numerous advancements that have occurred during his lifetime and their impact (both positive and negative) on the way laboratory research is conducted. He concludes with his thoughts on the future of science, stressing the importance of continued enthusiasm and motivation in scientists of all ages.

Property Value
Place of interview
  • 52 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 Interviewer

James J. Bohning was professor emeritus of chemistry at Wilkes University, where he had been a faculty member from 1959 to 1990. He served there as chemistry department chair from 1970 to 1986 and environmental science department chair from 1987 to 1990. Bohning was chair of the American Chemical Society’s Division of the History of Chemistry in 1986; he received the division’s Outstanding Paper Award in 1989 and presented more than forty papers at national meetings of the society. Bohning was on the advisory committee of the society’s National Historic Chemical Landmarks Program from its inception in 1992 through 2001 and is currently a consultant to the committee. He developed the oral history program of the Chemical Heritage Foundation, and he was CHF’s director of oral history from 1990 to 1995. From 1995 to 1998, Bohning was a science writer for the News Service group of the American Chemical Society. In May 2005, he received the Joseph Priestley Service Award from the Susquehanna Valley Section of the American Chemical Society.  Bohning passed away in September 2011.

Institutional location

Oral history number 0082

Related Items

Interviewee biographical information

  • September 02, 1907
  • Delavan, Minnesota, United States
  • September 12, 1991
  • Cleveland, Ohio, United States


Year Institution Degree Discipline
1931 Macalester College BA Chemistry
1935 Iowa State College PhD Bacterial Physiology

Professional Experience

University of Wisconsin--Madison

  • 1935 to 1936 Fellow

Iowa State College

  • 1936 to 1943 Instructor and Assistant Professor

University of Minnesota

  • 1943 to 1946 Associate Professor of Physiological Chemistry

Case Western Reserve University

  • 1946 to 1965 Professor/Directory, Biochemistry Department
  • 1965 to 1991 Professor of Biochemistry
  • 1967 to 1969 Dean of Sciences
  • 1970 to 1978 University Professor
  • 1978 to 1991 Emeritus University Professor in Biochemistry


Year(s) Award
1942 Eli Lilly Award in Bacteriology
1952 ScD, Macalester College
1952 Carl Neuberg Award
1954 Glycerine Award
1955 Senior Fulbright Research Scholarship, University Duneden (New Zealand)
1962 Commonowealth Fellowship to Max Planck Institute für Zellchemie (Germany)
1968 Modern Medicine Award for Distinguished Achievement
1969 National Institutes of Health Senior Research Fellowship, University of Georgia
1972 Lynen Lecturer and Medal
1972 ScD, Northwestern University
1976 Senior Scholar, Fulbright Hays Program (Australia)
1979 Senior US Scientist, Humboldt Award
1981 Alumni Citation of Distinguished Citizen, Macalester College
1982 ScD, University of Cincinnati
1985 Lynen Memorial Lecture, 13th International Congress of Biochemistry
1986 Selman A. Waksman Award in Microbiology, National Academy of Sciences
1987 Rosenstiel Medical Research Award
1988 Michelson-Morley Achievement Award
1989 Wellcome Visiting Professor in the Basic Medical Sciences Award, St. Louis University
1989 The Distinguished Achievement Citation, Iowa State University
1989 President's National Medal of Science
1990 William C. Rose Award in Biochemistry and Nutrition

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PDF — 3.7 MB

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

7 Separate Interview Segments Archival-quality downloads