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National Historic Chemical Landmark at DePauw is Noted

June 5, 2013

julian feature"In recognition of its 80-plus years of service as a center for education and cutting-edge research, the American Chemical Society has designated Purdue University’s R. B. Wetherill Laboratory of Chemistry building as a National Historic Chemical Landmark," reports Chemical & Engineering News. The article notes, "The Wetherill laboratory joins three other National Historic Chemical Landmarks in Indiana: Percy L. Julian’s synthesis of physostigmine, an important treatment for glaucoma, at DePauw University in Greencastle; the development of Rumsford baking powder, now owned by Clabber Girl in Terre Haute; and the development of diagnostic test strips that led to the self-treatment of diabetes and kidney disease, at Miles Laboratories in Elkhart."

Susan J. Ainsworth writes, "Across the U.S., the program has awarded landmark status to more than 70 places, discoveries, and achievements in the history of chemical science and technology. ACS launched the Chemical Landmarks program in 1992 to enhance public appreciation for the contributions of the chemical sciences to modern life in the U.S. and to encourage a sense of pride in the practitioners of those sciences."

Read more here.

Percy Julian, a 1920 graduate of DePauw, was a pioneering African-American chemist. His research -- some conducted on campus -- led to the 4036development of a low cost method of producing cortisone, as well as a synthethic drug for the treatment of glaucoma, and the creation of aerofoam, a flame retardant that saved many lives during World War II. A first generation college student who overcame great odds to obtain his education, Dr. Julian's life story was told in a 2007 NOVA special, "Forgotten Genius."

Dr. Julian received an honorary doctorate from DePauw (1947); was awarded the Old Gold Goblet (1950) and the McNaughton Medal for Public Service (1972); was a member of the University's Board of Trustees; and helped plan the science and mathematics center that was named for him in 1980. (photo: Dr. Julian with DePauw President Russell J. Humbert)

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