Paul J. Flory - Hall of Fame Entry
Author: Plastics Academy Staff
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Paul J. Flory
Winner of the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1974. Contributed outstanding research on the composition and properties of substances composed of giant molecules -- plastics, rubbers, and fibers. His research in polymeric materials has been essential to the growth of the plastics industry.
Mr. Flory's long career spanned both the academic and the industrial worlds. He enjoyed a professional lifetime of honors and awards culminating in the coveted Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1974. From 1934 to 1938, he was engaged in basic research on synthetic fibers, rubber, and other polymeric substances at the DuPont Experimental Station. There, he worked in a group with Wallace H. Carothers on the origins of nylon.
Then, for two years, he was attached to the University of Cincinnati. From 1940 until 1943, he worked with Standard Oil Development Company, where he began his research on the properties of polymers and synthetic rubber.
In 1948, he joined Cornell University as a professor of chemistry. There he taught and conducted research with postdoctoral students.
In 1956, he became the executive director of research at the prestigious Mellon Institute. Since 1961, he has been professor of chemistry at Stanford University.
Even after officially "retiring," he continued his work on polymers, dividing his time equally between teaching physics and chemistry at Stanford and conducting basic research at IBM Research Laboratory at San Jose.
In addition to the Nobel Prize, he was awarded many other honors, including Ohio State University's Sullivan Medal (1954); the American Chemistry Society's Baekeland Award (1947); the Peter Debye Award in physical chemistry (1968); the Gibbs Medal (1973); the Priestley Medal (1974); the Frankly Institute Cresson Medal (1971); and the National Medal of Science (1974).
His many publications are considered to "tower" above others and include numerous scientific journal articles and two books: Principles of Polymer Chemistry and Statistical Mechanics of Chain Molecules.