1964 Arie J. Haagen-Smit, Caltech

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1964 Recipient of the Richard C. Tolman Award
Dr. Arie J. Haagen-Smit, California Institute of Technology

After receiving his Doctor’s degree in chemistry in 1928 at the University of Utrecht in Holland, Arie Jan Haagen-Smit made up his mind that he would follow in the footsteps of his teachers, P. van Romburgh and L. Ruzicka, both terpene chemists, and study the interesting chemical structures which nature has to offer.

His appointment as Privat-Docent at his Alma Mater gave him the opportunity to spread his love for the chemistry of natural products to several generations of students. The isolation and synthesis of the first recognized plant hormones aroused the interest of the plant physiological world and resulted in an appointment as lecturer at Harvard University and the following year, 1937, in an appointment at the California Institute of Technology where he joined the staff to continue teaching and research of chemical and biochemical problems which nature presents.

One can mention his outstanding contributions on the isolation, structure determination, and synthesis of various naturally occurring substances, on flavors of food materials and on reactions in the atmosphere leading to various aspects of air pollution.

Among the honorary award to Dr. Haagen-Smit are the American Chemical Society Fritzsche Award for studies in the field of essential oils. His fundamental contributions to the study of air pollution, especially photochemical Los Angeles type smog, were recognized by the Air Pollution Control Association of America with the Chambers Award and the Pure Air Award from Los Angeles County.

His long term contribution to the activities of the American Chemical Society and his participation in an advisory capacity on committees at all levels of government show his deep concern for the welfare of men.


Richard C. Tolman Medal Award Meeting

Wednesday, April 7, 1965

Rodger Young Auditorium
936 W. Washington Blvd.
Los Angeles

“Through the Haze”
Dr. Arie J. Haagen-Smit
Professor of Biochemsitry
California Institute of Technology

Abstract: Our generation has discovered that the space we live in and the natural resources from which we derive our living are not unlimited. Indiscriminate use of our soil, water and air has led to waste, damage to agriculture, deterioration of materials and toxic effects on human beings. It is our duty to spread the gospel that any unnecessary waste and destruction of nature is a criminal act against future generations. The sad consequences of thoughtless expansion of urban areas will be illustrated with the sepaker’s early contact with such problems in Holland his later ones in this country, especially Los Angeles smog. Means will be discussed which will return clean air to our cities. The speaker will use this golden opportunity to tell about the omissions and commissions in his chemical career.

Reservations must be made by 4:00 pm, Tuesday, April 6, 1965 by telephoning Fujiko Nakamura at 469-7278. Cost is $4.00 with reservation, $4.25 without. Member families and friends are most cordially invited.


Dr. Arie Haagen-Smit receiving Tolman Medal from Dr. Thomas Doumani photo 137d1752-a268-4b21-aaff-5715779b4d8a.jpg

Dr. Arie Haagen-Smit receives the Tolman Medal from Dr. Thomas Doumani

An able speaker, playfully to expound on a favorite subject, drew a record attendance at the 5th annual Tolman Medal Award Dinner. Provost of Cal Tech, Dr. Robert F. Bacher, and Dr. Arnold O. Beckman introduced Dr. Arie J. Haagen-Smit, who was then presented the Tolman Award by Dr. T. Doumani, and reciprocated with the promised address. With manifest delight in a cohesive tale, he traced history and smog problems from the “black skull cap” looming over the 19th century London, past the 1947 L. A. Air Pollution Control Commission eagerly anticipating abatement within 90 days, to some of the gargantuan tunnel and fan schemes proposed for future succour. Demonstration of a three way correlation between hydrocarbon content, nitrogen oxide concentration and eye irritation was graphic and unequivocal. Intriguing too, was a sketch of free radical pathways for assorted reactions leading to smog, as well as a recording of the carbon monoxide-rush hour traffic relationship for which Professor Haagen-Smit is “Timely” famous. Perhaps, however, maximal audience impact of this adept exposition arose from the ineluctable proposition of a smoggy and bleak future “unless somebody does something”.

Concommitant highlights of the evening were the congenial emergence of an unstatistically high percentage of wives, an impressive assemblage of illustrious past chairmen of the Section, succulent slabs of prime rib, and extensive floral decorations. Chacun a son gout.