Norman Li begins the interview with a description of his family and childhood years in Fuzhou, China. After World War II, Li's family moved to Taiwan, where Li completed high school. Li then attended National Taiwan University, majoring in chemical engineering. He received his B.A. in 1954. Li's father encouraged him to further his education in the United States. Li attended Wayne State University, where he benefited from the care, support, and assurance of Professor Harold Donnelly. He received his M.S. in chemical engineering in 1957 and then attended Stevens Institute of Technology, receiving his PhD in 1963. Li accepted a position in the Process Division of Exxon Research and Engineering Company. Early in his career at Exxon, Li began thinking about liquid-membrane technology and applications. While with Exxon, Li received a combined total of 44 patents on either hydrocarbon separations or facilitated transport. Li was approached by Mary Good about a new career opportunity at UOP Co. After much deliberation, Li decided to make the move from research to research administration, becoming Director of Separation Science and Technology at UOP in 1981. As soon as he arrived at UOP, Li wrote a proposal that established a liquid-membrane research program. Li left UOP in 1988, joining Mary Good at Allied Signal Co. In 1995, Li decided to “retire” from Allied Signal and establish his own consulting firm, NL Chemical Technology, Inc. Li concludes the interview with a discussion of the future of chemical R&D, reflections on winning the Perkin Medal, and thoughts on his family.
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