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50th Anniversary Ph.D. Program in Polymer Chemistry
DVD Design by Jason Miller
Programming by Justin Molenaur
Historical content by Mark D. Bowles
Published 2006

By the mid-twentieth century, “polymer science” had become a new field whose practitioners explored the arrangement of large hydrocarbon molecules in long chains. This knowledge and its applications would transform the chemical industry. The development of synthetic rubber during the natural rubber emergency during World War II helped prove that polymers could become essential materials. The result was an “explosion of new opportunities,” as scientists developed plastics and rubber materials that could replace metallic and natural materials of all kinds. The emergence of a true science of polymers required a dedicated intellectual effort in basic research extending beyond the capabilities and the commercial sensibilities of industry alone—it needed an academic discipline and advanced training at the university level.

At the time no institution offered a distinct polymer chemistry program granting a doctoral degree. This would change thanks to two men at the University of Akron—President Norman P. Auburn and polymer chemistry professor Maurice Morton. Both quickly left their indelible marks on the university, establishing the Institute of Rubber Research (March 1956) and one of the first Ph.D. programs in polymer chemistry in the world (September 1956).

This 50th Anniversary DVD commemorates the first Ph.D. program in polymer chemistry at the University of Akron. Designed as a virtual polymer laboratory it contains interviews, historical documents, video clips, and images that describe one of the first Ph.D. programs in polymer chemistry in the nation.

Interview with Dr. Alan Gent discussing the first Ph.D. program in polymer chemistry