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Photograph of Raymond March
Photograph provided by Dr. March.

Oral history interview with Raymond E. March

  • 2014-Oct-27

Oral history interview with Raymond E. March

  • 2014-Oct-27

Raymond March was born in Newcastle upon Tyne, England. March’s childhood was shaped by World War II, and by a mysterious polio-like paralysis which caused him to miss a great deal of school. He took an apprenticeship with PAMETRADA (Parsons and Marine Engineering Turbine Research and Development Association) Research Station before gaining admittance to University of Leeds. There he majored in chemistry and was in the University Air Squadron. He accepted a scholarship to the University of Toronto, where he worked on flash photolysis with John Polanyi.

March developed a needle loop technique at Johnson & Johnson, then took a postdoc position in at McGill University, where he worked on methyl metals and microwave discharges; on atmospheric chemistry; and on aluminum trimethyl and impact work for Gerald Bull, who built the supergun. He took an assistant professorship at the brand-new Trent University in Peterborough, Ontario. On a sabbatical in France, March learned mass spectrometry and ion traps from Jean Durup and has continued to specialize in quadrupole mass spectrometers and to refine ion traps. Becoming interested in flavonoids, March established the Trent University Water Quality Centre and added an interest in antibiotics. March discusses his contributions to the establishment of Trent University; his role on the editorial board of the International Journal of Mass Spectrometry; his many friends and colleagues; his trips to Europe; funding; and his patents. He concludes with an encomium of the quadrupole ion trap mass spectrometer on the Rosetta mission to characterize a comet.

Property Value
Place of interview
  • 137 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

Michael A. Grayson is a member of the Mass Spectrometry Research Resource at Washington University in St. Louis. He received his BS degree in physics from St. Louis University in 1963 and his MS in physics from the University of Missouri at Rolla in 1965. He is the author of over 45 papers in the scientific literature. Before joining the Research Resource, he was a staff scientist at McDonnell Douglas Research Laboratory. While completing his undergraduate and graduate education, he worked at Monsanto Company in St. Louis, where he learned the art and science of mass spectrometry. Grayson is a member of the American Society for Mass Spectrometry (ASMS), and has served many different positions within that organization. He has served on the Board of Trustees of CHF and is currently a member of CHF's Heritage Council. He currently pursues his interest in the history of mass spectrometry by recording oral histories, assisting in the collection of papers, and researching the early history of the field.

Institutional location

Oral history number 0921

Related Items

Interviewee biographical information

  • March 13, 1934
  • Newcastle upon Tyne, United Kingdom


Year Institution Degree Discipline
1957 University of Leeds BSc Chemistry
1961 University of Toronto PhD Chemistry

Professional Experience

PAMETRADA Research Station

  • 1951 to 1954 Apprentice Industrial Chemist

University of Leeds

  • 1954 to 1957 Royal Air Force Voluntary Reserve, University Air Squadron

Royal Canadian Air Force Auxiliary

  • 1958 to 1963 Flight Lieutenant

Canadian Industries Limited

  • 1960 to 1961 Research Fellowship

Johnson & Johnson

  • 1961 to 1962 Research Scientist

McGill University

  • 1962 to 1963 Postdoctoral Fellow, Chemistry Department
  • 1963 to 1965 Research Associate, Chemistry Department

Loyola College in Maryland

  • 1963 to 1965 Lecturer (part-time)

Trent University

  • 1965 to 1969 Assistant Professor, Chemistry Department
  • 1969 to 1976 Associate Professor, Chemistry Department
  • 1976 to 1999 Professor of Chemistry
  • 1999 to 2017 Professor Emeritus, Chemistry Department
  • 2005 to 2017 Lecturer, graduate course in mass spectrometry

University of Kent at Canterbury

  • 1972 to 1973 Research Professor

Queen's University (Kingston, Ont.)

  • 1981 to 2000 Adjunct Professor

York University

  • 1990 to 2000 Adjunct Professor

University of Waterloo

  • 1995 to 2000 Adjunct Professor


Year(s) Award
1950 Whitley Bay Grammar School, School Certificate Prize in Mathematics
1970 Fellow of the Chemical Institute of Canada (FCIC)
1995 “Recognition Award”, Canadian Mass Spectrometry Society
1995 Distinguished Faculty Research Award, Trent University
1997 “Distinguished Contribution Award,” Canadian Mass Spectrometry Society
2000 DSc from Leeds University
2008 Docteur (honoris causa), Université d’Aix-Marseille
2009 Gerhard Herzberg Award, Canadian Society for Analytical Sciences and Spectroscopy

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PDF — 964 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

4 Separate Interview Segments Archival-quality downloads