The federal government’s first physical science research laboratory was chartered by Congress on March 3, 1901, as the National Bureau of Standards, which became the National Institute of Standards and Technology in 1988. Recognizing the critical importance of chemical measures and standards, NIST established the Chemistry Division as one of its first programs.
Cradles of Chemistry
Recent archaeological evidence reveals early Virginia, which included both the Roanoke and Jamestown colonies, as the birthplace of the American chemical enterprise. Chemical processes first applied experimentally at Roanoke were re-introduced at Jamestown twenty years later.
The Chemical Abstracts Service, a division of the American Chemical Society, has provided the most comprehensive repository of research in chemistry and related sciences for over 100 years. CAS innovations have fueled chemical research through development of the CAS RegistrySM and CAS databases which contain invaluable information for chemical scientists, including SciFinder® and STN®.
The Williams-Miles History of Chemistry Collection, established in 1992, is one of the leading historical collections of chemistry books in the southern United States. It represents a combined 70 years of scholarly collecting by Wyndham D. Miles, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland, and William D. Williams, Professor of Chemistry at Harding University. More than 2,000 volumes published between 1600 and 1900 are preserved here; the collection is particularly strong in 19th-century works.
This research and development complex was established by the founders of Universal Oil Products (later named UOP) to develop key products for the oil-refining industry. The processes created here profoundly affected the refining, treatment and conversion of crude oil and the development of the petroleum and petrochemical industries. Conceived as a combination of quiet academic retreat and industrial plant, Riverside attracted many of the world's leading petroleum scientists and a dedicated support team. Between 1921 and 1955, Riverside research resulted in 8,790 U.S. and foreign patents.
For more than a century, scientists at Rockefeller University have enhanced our understanding of the molecular basis of life — specifically the relationship between the structure and function of nucleic acids and proteins. They showed that DNA transfers genetic information and that the sugars ribose and deoxyribose are the key building blocks of the nucleic acids RNA and DNA.
The Polymer Research Institute was established in 1946 by Herman F. Mark, a pioneer in the study of giant molecules. The Institute brought together a number of polymer researchers to create the first academic facility in the United States devoted to the study and teaching of polymer science. Scientists associated with it later went on to establish polymer programs at other universities and institutions, contributing significantly to the development and growth of what has become a vital branch of chemistry, engineering, and materials science.
Havemeyer Hall was built between 1896 and 1898 under the leadership of Charles Frederick Chandler. It provided research and teaching facilities for faculty and students specializing in industrial, inorganic, organic, physical, and biological chemistry. Pioneering research done here led to the discovery of deuterium, for which Harold Clayton Urey received the Nobel Prize in 1934. Six others who did research here subsequently received the Nobel Prize, including Irving Langmuir, the first industrial chemist to be so honored, in 1932.
Gilman Hall, built in 1916-1917, accommodated a growing College of Chemistry by providing expanded research and teaching facilities for faculty and students specializing in physical, inorganic and nuclear chemistry. Work performed at Gilman Hall helped advance the fields of chemical thermodynamics and molecular structure, and has resulted in multiple Nobel Prizes. The Hall is most famous for the work of Glenn T. Seaborg and his coworkers, which included the successful identification and production the element Plutonium. Seaborg received the Nobel Prize in 1951 for his accomplishments.
The William H. Chandler Chemistry Laboratory was conceived and planned by William Henry Chandler (1841-1906), professor, chairman, librarian, and acting president of Lehigh University. Designed by Philadelphia architect Addison Hutton and erected between 1884 and 1885 at a cost of $200,000, the building set the standard for laboratory construction for the next half century.