Location: Second Floor, West Wing, North Wall, Sequence 5
Source: Chemical Heritage Foundation
Sponsor: Gregory L. Baker
Marvel's early researches were in classical organic chemistry, but he is best known for his contributions to polymer chemistry. His work on the low-temperature copolymerization of butadiene and styrene was important to the commercial production of synthetic rubber. His later work developing high temperature polymers by including rigid ring structures in the backbone, as in polyimides, polybenzimidazoles and "ladder" polymers, is especially significant. Polymers from olefins and sulfur dioxide, polyvinyl alcohols, ketones, acrylics, vinyl chloride-vinyl acetate, urea-formaldehyde - almost no area of polymer chemistry escaped his interest, either at Illinois (from graduate school days until 1961), or at Arizona. Marvel was a duPont consultant for over half a century and received many honors, including the first ACS Award in Polymer Chemistry (1964). An avid birdwatcher, his over 500 publications include one entitled "Unusual Feeding Habits of the Cape May Warbler". Many legends are associated with his nickname "Speed", but according to Marvel, it was given to him when, as a graduate student, he would work late in the laboratory, sleep as late as possible the next morning, yet dress speedily and get to the dining hall for breakfast before it closed at 7:30 AM.