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Dole, Malcolm, 1903-1990



  • Existence: 1903-1990

Chemist Malcolm Dole was born on March 4, 1903 in Melrose, Massachusetts. He was a member of Northwestern's faculty, teaching in the Chemistry Department. In 1964 he began a joint appointment with the Materials Research Center until his retirement in 1969. Dole's research interests focused on electrochemistry and polymer chemistry. His contributions to the field included discovering the “Dole Effect”. Malcolm Dole passed away on November 29, 1990 at his home in Los Gatos, California.

With his twin brother Kenneth, Dole attended Harvard University where he received a Bachelor of Arts in Chemistry in 1924, a Master of Arts in Chemistry in 1926, and a Doctorate in Physical Chemistry in 1928. From 1928 to 1930, Dole was a Postdoctoral Research Assistant at the Rockefeller Institute for Medical Research. During this time he also studied with Peter Debye and Hans Falkenhagen at the University of Leipzig.

Dole joined the faculty at Northwestern University in 1930 as an Instructor in Chemistry, marking the beginning of a career at Northwestern that would span almost forty years. Between 1930 and 1943 he held the positions of instructor, assistant professor and associate professor in the Chemistry Department. During World War II, Dole participated in gas mask research at Northwestern (1941-1943) and then was involved in Manhattan Project work, also at Northwestern (1942-1943). He took a leave of absence to serve as the civilian director of the National Defense Research Council Chemical Warfare Research Laboratory at Dugway Proving Grounds, and as the technical director of field trials of non-persistent war gases in Idaho and Florida. He later served as acting technical director of the thermal diffusion plant in Oak Ridge, Tennessee (1944-45).

Upon completion of his war duties, Dole returned to Northwestern as Professor of Chemistry. In 1963 he became Professor of Chemistry and Materials Science, and from 1964 to 1969 held a joint appointment in this department and in Northwestern's new Materials Research Center, which had been founded in 1959. After retiring from Northwestern University in 1969, Dole became the Robert A. Welch Professor of Chemistry at Baylor University and taught courses in physical and polymer chemistry until his retirement from Baylor in 1982.

Dole made significant contributions to the field of physical chemistry (especially in electrochemistry and polymer chemistry) during his career. Among his contributions were the discovery of the “Dole Effect” (1935), in which he proved that the atomic weight of oxygen in air is greater than that of oxygen in water, work on glass electrodes (1941), and the cross-linking of polymers (1966). In 1966 he pioneered the development of a form of mass spectrometry that would become electrospray ionization (ESIMS) in the 1980's. His principal publications include Experimental and Theoretical Electrochemistry (1935), The Glass Electrode (1941), Introduction to Statistical Thermodynamics (1954), and The Radiation Chemistry of Macromolecules (2 vol., 1973). In addition, he was the author of over 200 scientific papers and articles.

Dole received many honors throughout his career. Among these were the Army-Navy Certificate of Appreciation; Outstanding Faculty Scholar at Baylor University; Southwest Regional Award of the American Chemical Society; and the A. Ottenberg Service Award of the Santa Clara Valley chapter of the American Chemical Society. In addition, he was appointed an honorary faculty member of the University of San Marcos in Lima, Peru, and of the University of Chile, in Santiago, Chile. Dole served as a member of the Physical Chemistry Advisory panel, Office of Naval Research; member of the Chemistry Review Committee of the Argonne National Laboratory; advisory panel member of the National Science Foundation; and consultant to the Oak Ridge National Laboratory. He also served as a Trustee of the Gordon Research Conferences; President of the Association of Harvard Chemists; and Vice-president of the Electrochemical Society.

Dole was an avid yachtsman. While at Northwestern he belonged to the Sheridan Shores Yacht Club, where he won numerous sailing awards. He continued his sailing at Baylor University as a member of the Ridgewood Yacht Club.

He was also known as an ardent bicyclist, riding his bike to campus each day in Evanston and in Waco. In 1961, he was arrested for bicycling on Sheridan Road after an ordinance was passed prohibiting bicycle riding on busy streets. Dole won his court case due to a technicality - no signs stating the restriction had been posted.

Malcolm Dole passed away on November 29, 1990 at his home in Los Gatos, California at the age of 87. He was survived by his wife, his daughter, son and three grandchildren.

Found in 1 Collection or Record:

Malcolm Dole (1903-1990) Papers

Identifier: 11/3/8/5
Abstract The papers of Malcolm Dole (1903-1990; member of the faculty of Northwestern University's Chemistry Department) fill eleven boxes (including two slide boxes and two drop-front boxes). They span the years 1924 to 1990 and include materials from his tenures at both Northwestern and Baylor. The bulk of the papers consist of personal data, personal financial records, and materials relating to research projects. The papers are arranged in five sub-series: Biographical, Correspondence, Teaching,...