Digital Collections

Oral history interview with Jean H. Futrell

  • 2012-Oct-28 (First session)
  • 2012-Oct-29 (Second session)

Oral history interview with Jean H. Futrell

  • 2012-Oct-28 (First session)
  • 2012-Oct-29 (Second session)

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.

Property Value
Place of interview
  • 176 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 0706

Related Items

Interviewee biographical information

  • October 20, 1933
  • Grant Parish, Louisiana, United States


Year Institution Degree Discipline
1955 Louisiana Tech University BA Chemical Engineering
1958 University of California, Berkeley PhD Physical Chemistry

Professional Experience

Exxon Mobil Research Center

  • 1958 to 1959 Research Scientist

United States. Air Force

  • 1959 to 1961 Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, First Lieutenant and Captain
  • 1961 to 1966 Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Senior Scientist, Aerospace Research Laboratories

University of Utah

  • 1966 to 1967 Associate Professor, Chemistry
  • 1967 to 1986 Professor, Chemistry

University of Delaware

  • 1986 to 1990 Professor, Chemistry and Biochemistry
  • 1986 to 1997 Chair, Chemistry and Biochemistry
  • 1990 to 1998 Willis F. Harrington Professor, Chemistry and Biochemistry
  • 1993 to 1998 Professor, Chemical Engineering

Environmental Molecular Sciences Laboratory, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory

  • 1998 to 2002 Director
  • 2002 to 2013 Battelle Fellow
  • 2013 Battelle Fellow Emeritus


Year(s) Award
1995 American Chemical Society Delaware Section Research Award
2004 First American honored by special issue of the European Journal of Mass Spectrometry and Honor Symposium in Konstanz, Germany
2006 PNNL Director's Award for Lifetime Achievement in Science and Technology
2007 Honor issue of International Journal of Mass Spectrometry and Ion Physics
2007 Frank H. Field and Joe L. Franklin Award for Outstanding Achievement in Mass Spectrometry by the American Chemical Society in Mass Spectrometry
2009 Elected to the Inaugural Class of American Chemical Society Fellows
2017 International Symposium on Atomic and Surface Physics Erwin Schrödinger Gold Medal

Cite as

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

PDF — 3.0 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

5 Separate Interview Segments Archival-quality downloads