Oral history interview with Ronald C. Breslow
- 1999-Mar-19 (First session)
- 1999-Apr-09 (Second session)
Ronald Breslow begins the interview with a discussion of his family life and background. He grew up in Rahway, New Jersey, the son of a physician. Max Tishler, a family friend, helped to pique Breslow's interest in chemistry. In high school, Breslow entered the Westinghouse Science Contest, which enabled him to meet like-minded teenagers. Breslow entered Harvard University, graduating with his A.B. in chemistry in 1952. He discusses chemistry courses taught by Louis Fieser and Paul Bartlett, and his research with Gilbert Stork on the structure of cedrene. Breslow received a master's degree in medical science from Harvard in 1953, and he discusses the uniqueness of the program. He continued his graduate studies with R.B. Woodward, earning his Ph.D. in chemistry in 1955 for his work on magnamycin. He discusses his graduate school colleagues and his post-doc with Alexander Todd.
In 1956 Breslow joined the faculty of Columbia University, where he has worked on a variety of subjects, including thiamine, cyclopropenyl cation, cyclopdextrins, and electon transfer. He discusses his colleagues, his collaborations, and his cancer research. Breslow further addresses changes at Columbia, Columbia's chemistry department, and his involvement in the American Chemical Society. He concludes with a discussion of his consulting activities and reflections on his family and career.
|Place of interview|
|Rights||Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License|
About the Interviewer
Leon Gortler is a professor of chemistry at Brooklyn College of the City University of New York. He holds AB and MS degrees from the University of Chicago and a PhD from Harvard University where he worked with Paul Bartlett. He has long been interested in the history of chemistry, in particular the development of physical organic chemistry, and has conducted over fifty oral and videotaped interviews with major American chemists.
|Oral history number||0181|
|View in library catalog|
Interviewee biographical information
|1953||Harvard University||MA||Medical Sciences|
University of Cambridge
- 1955 to 1956 National Research Council Fellow
- 1956 to 1959 Instructor, Department of Chemistry
- 1959 to 1962 Associate Professor of Chemistry
- 1962 to 1967 Professor of Chemistry
- 1967 to 2000 Samuel Latham Mitchell Professor of Chemistry
- 1992 to 2000 University Professor
|1966||Award in Pure Chemistry, American Chemical Society|
|1966||Fresenius Award, Phi Lambda Upsilon|
|1969||Baekeland Medal, American Chemical Society|
|1969||Mark van Doren Medal, Columbia University|
|1972||Centenary Medal, British Chemical Society|
|1974||Harrison Howe Award, Rochester Section, American Chemical Society|
|1977||Remsen Prize, Maryland Section, American Chemical Society|
|1978||Roussel Prize in Steroids, Roussel-UCLAF, France|
|1980||James Flack Norris Prize in Physical Organic Chemistry, American Chemical Society|
|1984||T. W. Richards Medal, Northeast Section, American Chemical Society|
|1987||Arthur C. Cope Award, American Chemical Society|
|1988||Kenner Award, University of Liverpool|
|1989||Nichols Medal, New York Section, American Chemical Society|
|1989||Award in Chemical Sciences, National Academy of Sciences|
|1990||Allan Day Award, Philadelphia Organic Chemists Club|
|1990||Paracelsus Award and Medal, Swiss Chemical Society|
|1991||National Medal of Science|
|1999||Priestley Medal, American Chemical Society|
|2010||Perkin Medal, Society of Chemical Industry|
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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.