Jean H. Futrell was born in Grant Parish, Louisiana. He majored in chemical engineering at Louisiana Tech University, and also enrolled in the Air Force ROTC. Futrell attended the University of California at Berkeley for graduate school, where his thesis research was in radiation chemistry. He was introduced to mass spectrometry as an analytical technique, playing a vital role in Futrell’s research. After graduating, Futrell was a radiation chemist exploring applications of radiation processing of petroleum fractions. Required to complete his military service obligation, he was assigned to the Aerospace Research Laboratory and published more than twenty papers. Futrell accepted an appointment as Associate Professor of Chemistry at the University of Utah, influenced by the fundamental theory underlying mass. Futrell continued to build his own versions of spectrometers as unique research tools for exploring the frontiers of ion chemistry. In 1987 Futrell accepted the position of Department Head of Chemistry and Biochemistry at the University of Delaware. In 1998 Futrell was recruited by the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory to lead the William R. Wiley Environmental Molecular Sciences Laboratory as Director. In 2013 he retired and became the first Battelle Fellow Emeritus at PNNL.