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John Paul Hogan

  • Born: August 7, 1919, Lowes, Kentucky

  Interview Details

Interview no.: 0136
Interview Date: February 10, 1995
Location: Bartlesville, Oklahoma
Interviewer: James J. Bohning
No. of pages: 41
Sponsor: Society of Chemical Industry
Society of Chemical Industry

  Abstract of Interview


The interview begins as J. Paul Hogan discusses his family background and early education in Lowes, Kentucky. Next follows a description of Hogan's college education at Murray State and teaching experiences at the high school and college levels. The central portion of the interview focuses on Hogan's career with Phillips Petroleum Company, which began after his position teaching physics at Oklahoma A&M was eliminated. Hogan's first work at Phillips was with Grant Bailey and Alfred Clark on double bond shifting. After about five years, he switched to the Fischer-Tropsch project, preparing and commercializing a process for the production of hydrocarbon. Next Hogan worked with Clark, and eventually others, beginning by investigating the nickel oxide catalyst and using it to produce 223-trimethylpentene and 223-trimethylpentane. Ultimately Hogan and Banks discovered polypropylene, and the interview examines some of the many patents and papers stemming from this research. Throughout the interview, Hogan comments on his relationships with Clark, Bailey, Robert L. Banks and Clarence Lanning. He also discusses the reaction of Phillips' management to the production of polymers, the work and decisions leading to the commercialization of polyethylene before polypropylene, and the legal situations surrounding the commercialization of polypropylene. Towards the end of the interview, Hogan examines Phillips' attitude toward publishing, records retention, and R&D; his own work on copolymerization; and his views on the research process and the roles of theory and intuition in it. The interview concludes with a discussion of the meaning of the Perkin Medal and the future of chemical R&D.


1942 B.S., Chemistry and Physics, Murray State University

  Professional Experience

Mayfield High School

1942 - 1943 Chemistry and Physics Instructor

Oklahoma State University of Agriculture and Applied Science

1943 - 1944 Physics Instructor

Phillips Petroleum Company

1944 - 1947 Research Chemist

Phillips Petroleum Company

1947 - 1954 Project Leader

Phillips Petroleum Company

1954 - 1960 Group Leader

Phillips Petroleum Company

1960 - 1977 Section Supervisor

Phillips Petroleum Company

1977 - 1985 Senior Research Associate

Phillips Petroleum Company

1985 Retired

Phillips Petroleum Company

1985 - 1986 Consultant

Neuman, Williams, Anderson, and Olson

1986 - 1993 Independent Consultant


1969 Award for Creative Invention, American Chemical Society
1971 Honarary D.Sc., Murray State University
1972 Pioneer Chemist Award, American Institute of Chemists
1972 Distinguished Alumnus Award, Murray State University
1972 Lifetime Appointment as Kentucky Colonel by Governor of Kentucky
1976 Inventor of the Year Award, Oklahoma Bar Association, Copyright and Patent Section
1981 Man of the Year Award for Outstanding Achievement in Polymeric Materials, Society of Plastics Engineers
1987 Perkin Medal Award, Society of Chemical Industry (American Section)

  Table of Contents

Title and Description Page

Childhood, Early and College Education 1

High school in Lowes, Kentucky. B.S. in chemistry and physics from Murray State University.

Early Career 4

Teaching position at Mayfield High School. Position teaching physics in Army pre-flight school at Oklahoma A&M.

Early Work for Phillips Petroleum Company 6

Work on Fischer-Tropsch project. Work on Nickel oxide catalyst project.

Polypropylene Discovery and Patent 14

Discovery process. Patents and papers on polymerization.

Later work for Phillips Petroleum Company 26

Perkin Medal award. Copolymerization of polyethylene. Views of intuition and theory in research process. Comments on atmosphere at Phillips.

Notes 37

Index 38

  About the Interviewer

James J. Bohning

James J. Bohning is professor emeritus of chemistry at Wilkes University, where he was a faculty member from 1959 to 1990. He served there as chemistry department chair from 1970 to 1986 and environmental science department chair from 1987 to 1990. Bohning was chair of the American Chemical Society’s Division of the History of Chemistry in 1986; he received the division’s Outstanding Paper Award in 1989 and has presented more than forty papers at national meetings of the society. Bohning was on the advisory committee of the society’s National Historic Chemical Landmarks Program from its inception in 1992 through 2001 and is currently a consultant to the committee. He developed the oral history program of the Chemical Heritage Foundation, and he was the foundation’s director of oral history from 1990 to 1995. From 1995 to 1998, Bohning was a science writer for the News Service group of the American Chemical Society. He is currently a visiting research scientist and CESAR Fellow at Lehigh University. In May 2005, he received the Joseph Priestley Service Award from the Susquehanna Valley Section of the American Chemical Society.

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