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Paul M. Doty

Paul Doty

CHF Collections, Photograph by Ray Ferguson

  • Born: June 1, 1920, Charleston, West Virginia
  • Died: December 5, 2011, Cambridge, Massachusetts

  Interview Details

Interview no.: 0062
Interview Date: November 17, 1986
Location: Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts
Interviewer: Raymond C. Ferguson
No. of pages: 47
Minutes: 120

  Abstract of Interview

Paul Doty begins by describing his family's background and his early education in Western Pennsylvania. He also recalls attending the ACS national meeting while he was still a teenager. He describes his impressions of Pennsylvania State College under Frank Whitmore, and the influence of John G. (Jack) Aston. Examining his selection of Columbia University for graduate studies, Doty describes the famous scientists there at that time and the effects of World War II; next he discusses how thesis research in physical chemistry led to work on light scattering and polymers. He remembers his coworkers, including Bruno Zimm and Turner Alfrey, and his postdoc in Eric Rideal's laboratory at Cambridge University, where he was first drawn to research in biopolymers. Doty recounts his early research at Harvard University, including protein denaturation and renaturation, and describes his colleagues. He continues the interview with an account of the development of biochemistry at Harvard and his involvement in public service and activism in nuclear and international issues. Finally, Paul Doty reflects on national characteristics in academic policy.


1941 B.S., Chemistry, Pennsylvania State College
1944 Ph.D., Chemistry, Columbia University

  Professional Experience

Polytechnic Institute of Brooklyn

1943 - 1945 Instructor, Research Associate and Co-Director of Quartermaster Projects

Polytechnic Institute of Brooklyn

1945 - 1946 Assistant Professor of Physical Chemistry

University of Notre Dame

1947 - 1948 Assistant Professor of Chemistry

Harvard University

1948 - 1950 Assistant Professor of Chemistry

Harvard University

1950 - 1956 Associate Professor of Chemistry

Harvard University

1956 - 1968 Professor of Chemistry

Harvard University

1967 - 1970 Chairman, Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

Harvard University

1968 - Present Mallinckrodt Professor of Biochemistry


1946 - 1947 Rockefeller Fellow, Cambridge University, England
1950 - 1951 Guggenheim Fellow, held in 1958, Cambridge University
1950 Fellow, American Academy of Arts and Sciences
1955 Priestly Lecturer, Pennsylvania State University
1956 Award in Pure Chemistry, American Chemical Society
1956 Edgar Fahs Smith Lecturer, University of Pennsylvania
1957 Elected Member, National Academy of Sciences
1959 Harrison Howe Lecturer, University of Rochester
1960 Harvey Lecturer
1961 Member, President's Science Advisory Committee
1963 Senior Fellow, Society of Fellows, Harvard University
1966 D.Sc., University of Chicago
1967 Gold Medal Award, City College Chemistry Alumni Association
1970 Fellow, American Philosophical Society
1971 Robertson Memorial Lecturer, National Academy of Sciences
1972 Dedication Lecture, Mitsubishi-Kasei Institute of Life Sciences, Tokyo
1973 25th Anniversary Lecture, Brandeis University
1973 J. T. Donald Lecture in Chemistry, McGill University
1975 Foreign Member, Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts

  Table of Contents

Title and Description Page

Childhood, Early and College Education 1

High school interest in chemistry. B.S. in chemistry from Pennsylvania State College. Ph.D. in chemistry from Columbia University.

Brooklyn Polytechnic Institute 7

Teaching position at Brooklyn Polytechnic Institute. Co-directorship.

Rockefeller Fellowship at Cambridge University 11

European contacts. Early light scattering research.

Research at Harvard University 17

Synthetic polymer research. Consulting work for Union Carbide. Introduction ofoptical rotary dispersion method. Work on denaturation and renaturation of DNA.Work on protein synthesis. Work on mapping the collagen gene.

Professorship in Chemistry at Harvard University 27

Founding of Biochemistry Department. Founding of three journals.

Public Service 30

Election to the National Research Council. Appointment to the President's Science Advisory Committee. Opinions on government science funding and policy.

Notes 39

Index 42

  About the Interviewer

Raymond C. Ferguson

Raymond C. Ferguson obtained his degrees in chemistry from Iowa State University (B.S., M.S.) and Harvard University (Ph.D.). He worked in research divisions of the Organic Chemicals, Elastomer Chemicals, and Central Research Departments of DuPont, principally in molecular spectroscopy, organic structure analysis, and polymer characterization. Currently he is affiliated with CONDUX, Inc., a consulting association of former DuPont professionals.

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