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Burwell, Robert Lemmon, Jr., 1912-2003



  • Existence: 1912 - 2003


Robert Lemmon Burwell, Jr. was born in Baltimore, Maryland, on May 6, 1912. He earned his B.S. at St. John's College in 1932 and his Ph.D. in chemistry at Princeton in 1936. Burwell was an instructor in chemistry at Trinity College (now Duke University) from 1936 to the spring of 1939 before joining the faculty at Northwestern University in the fall of 1939 as an instructor in chemistry. Burwell became internationally known for his pioneering work in heterogeneous catalysis.

Burwell served on active duty with the U.S. Naval Reserve from 1942 to 1945, primarily stationed at the Naval Research Laboratory in Washington, D.C. After completing military service, Burwell returned to Northwestern. In 1946 the University twice promoted him, first to assistant professor and then to associate professor. After being promoted to full professor in 1952 Burwell chaired the department of chemistry from 1952 to 1957. He was named Ipatieff Professor of Chemistry in 1970, a position he held until his retirement in 1980 at which time he became an emeritus member of the faculty.

He served as president of both the International Congress on Catalysis and the Catalysis Society. The American Chemical Society gave him both its Kendall and Lubrizol awards.

Burwell married Elise Frank on December 23, 1939; the couple had two daughters, Mary Elise and Augusta Somervell. Robert Burwell died on May 15, 2003.

Found in 1 Collection or Record:

Robert L. Burwell, Jr. (1912-2003) Papers

Identifier: 11/3/8/3

The papers of Robert L. Burwell, Jr. (instructor in chemistry) fill twenty-nine boxes and are arranged into: biographical materials (general materials, education, administrative duties), correspondence, teaching, research and consulting, professional organizations, speeches, and publications.

Dates: 1931-1986