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Dr. Frank J. Welcher Lectureship

Speaker: Geraldine Richmond, Ph.D. Location: IUPUI University Library Lilly Auditorium


The Surface of Water: its role in environmentally important processes 

Geraldine Richmond, Ph.D., Presidential Chair in Science and Professor of Chemistry at the University of Oregon

Questions? Contact Erv Boschmann.


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Learn about Frank J. Welcher

frank_welcher_photo.jpgFrank Johnson Welcher was Professor of Chemistry at the Downtown Indianapolis Campus of Indiana University, which later (1969) became IUPUI, Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis. He worked in this small department without laboratory research possibilities and was, for a long time, the sole full time chemist - but he was a towering one. Utterly knowledgeable and a stickler for detail, he taught conscientiously and faithfully from 1932 until his retirement in 1978. His legions of students, some not pleased with his demanding style, sometimes wrote back to him, long after they graduated, thanking him for the preparation he gave them for life after college.

He was a prolific writer authoring 16 chemistry books. His monumental work, Organic Analytical Reagents, sealed his international reputation. Soon he was on the lecture circuit not only in this country, but world-wide, and became a sought-after conference speaker.

In 1948, I. M. Kolthoff, reviewing his work in the Journal of Physical Chemistry, wrote in part about volume III:

"The present volume is of particular interest to all analytical chemists because it gives all the applications such as dipyridyl, dioximes, cupferron, etc. Analytical chemists are indebted to the author for making this important reference book available."

When asked how he accomplished all the work without a research laboratory at this disposal. His answer was quick: "I work in the huge library at Eli Lilly and Company, where I spend many happy and wonderful hours."

He often spoke of the collaborative work he did with many chemists around the country and around the world, presenting at conferences, co-authoring articles and books, and meeting informally. So, in 1978 the IUPUI chemistry department organized the F. J. Welcher Symposium on Analytical Chemistry, with some 40 invited chemists participating all coming from around the world. In 1990 the City of Indianapolis proclaimed a day as the Frank J. Welcher Day, and that same year, during commencement, Purdue University bestowed on him the Honorary Degree of Doctor of Science.

In his retirement he spent countless hours on his life-long hobby of researching the Civil War, which culminated in the two-volume set The Union Army, 1861-1865, published by Indiana University Press. Reviewers labeled this work as: "one that sets standards for historical work" (Indianapolis Weekly). "Belongs on every Civil War student's book shelf." (The Civil War News). "An extraordinary accomplishment by any measure." (The State of Columbia, S.C.)

 His last publication was Colburn's Brigade, which honored the unit his grandfather served in during the Civil War.