Oral history interview with Louis C. Rubens

Oral history interview with Louis C. Rubens

  • 1986-Aug-19

Louis Rubens begins the interview by discussing his family background and early education. Rubens grew up in Escanaba, Michigan, where his parents ran a tourist park. He attended parochial school, and he credits his teachers there for sparking his interest in mathematics and chemistry. After high school, Rubens followed in the footsteps of his older brother and attended Jordan College. There, he studied chemistry, and when the school closed in 1939 due to financial difficulties, Rubens received his Associate's degree. Though he tried to transfer to other colleges, he was not successful and soon decided to take a position at Dow. Rubens rose through the ranks of research, working on the stabilization and impact enhancement of polystyrene, the production of co-polymers, and the development of the composite foam system. Rubens concludes the interview with a discussion of the importance of management support for research, the influence of H.H. Dow's research philosophy, and the future of the foam industry.

Property Value
Place of interview
  • 42 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.

Physical location

Oral history number 0048

Related Items

Interviewee biographical information

  • November 09, 1919
  • Escanaba, Michigan, United States
  • December 01, 2013
  • Midland, Michigan, United States


Year Institution Degree Discipline
1939 Jordan College AAS Chemistry

Professional Experience

Dow Chemical Company

  • 1940 to 1946 Laboratory Technician
  • 1946 to 1952 Chemist
  • 1952 to 1962 Group Leader
  • 1962 to 1967 Associate Scientist
  • 1967 to 1992 Research Scientist
  • 1992 to 1996 Research Fellow


Year(s) Award
1979 Herbert H. Dow Award
1980 Saginaw Valley Patent Lawyers Award for Lifetime Inventors
1982 12th International Foamed Plastics Award
1982 Dow Inventor of the Year Award
1983 German Fachverband Schaumkunstoffe Medal for Pioneering Research
1994 Outstanding Achievement Award, Society of Plastics Engineers

Cite as

See our FAQ page to learn how to cite an oral history.

PDF — 246 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

7 Separate Interview Segments Archival-quality downloads