Joel Hildebrand

Joel Hildebrand books and biography

Joel Henry Hildebrand

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Joel Henry Hildebrand (1881-1983) was a pioneer chemist and major figure in chemistry research specializing in liquids and nonelectrolyte solutions.

Education and Professorship

(born Nov. 16, 1881, Camden, N.J., U.S.-died April 30, 1983, Kensington, Calif.) U.S. educator and chemist.

Hildebrand gradauted from the University of Pennsylvania in 1903. He served briefly in the faculty before going to the University of California, Berkeley as a chemistry instructor in 1907. Within five years he became an Assistant Professor. In 1918 he was elevated to Associate Professor before finally being granted Full Professorship a year later in 1919. He served as the Dean of the College of Chemistry from 1949 through 1951. He retired from full time teaching in 1952 but remained a University Professor at Berkeley until his death. Hildebrand Hall on the Berkeley campus is named for him.

Accomplishments, Discoveries, Honors

His 1924 monograph on the solubility of nonelectrolytes, Solubility, was the classic reference for almost half a century. His many scientific papers and chemistry texts include An Introduction to Molecular Kinetic Theory (1963) and Viscosity and Diffusivity (1977). He received the Distinguished Service Medal in 1918 and the King's Medal (British) in 1948.

Hildebrand served on the Council of the National Academy of Sciences and was also a member of the Citizens Advisory Committee on Education to the California Legislature. Hildebrand had several discoveries but his most notable was his discovery of the connection of the use of helium and oxygen mixtures to alleviate the condition known as the bends. This discovery was later used to save the lives of 33 members of the submarine USS Squalus which went down in 1939.

Hildebrand won virtually every major prize in the field of chemistry except the Nobel Prize. The American Chemical Society created the Joel Hildebrand Award in his honor for work pertaining to the field of theoretical and experimental chemistry of liquids. The award is currently sponsored by Exxon Mobil.

Professor Hildebrand often said he most cherished his role as a teacher. In an interview conducted shortly before his 100th birthday, he observed: "Good teaching is primarily an art, and can neither be defined or standardized ... Good teachers are born and made; neither part of the process can be omitted." [1] He remained committed to working with undergraduate students even at the age of 100. He came to his office on campus nearly every school day until declining health made it impossible.

Hildebrand was also active in the Sierra Club, serving as its president from 1937 through 1940. As a member he contributed to many important land-use reports about State and National Parks in California.

  1. ^ California Monthly magazine, January 1983

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