Guess the Chemist (18)

  • ChemPubSoc Europe Logo
  • DOI: 10.1002/chemv.201300058
  • Author: ChemViews
  • Published Date: 04 June 2013
  • Copyright: Wiley-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA
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This person was born in Denmark in 1876 and left school at the age of 15. This person signed up to join an expedition on a warship, with the aim of becoming a naval officer, but illness prevented them from achieving this goal. Instead they enrolled to study plant engineering at the Royal Polytechnic Institute in Copenhagen, Denmark. This chemist graduated in 1900 and emigrated to the US shortly afterwards. There, they joined the pharmaceutical company Parke, Davis & Co. in Detroit, MI.


In 1914, they co-founded the Commonwealth Chemical Corporation in Newark, NJ, where they developed methods for the manufacture of sodium benzoate, vanillin, and coumarin. After a fire in 1929, the company was acquired by Monsanto Chemical Company and moved to St. Louis, MO. While working for Monsanto, this person helped develop the synthesis of the artificial sweetener saccharin. In 1935, this chemist returned to New York and founded the chemical company named after him.


This chemist died suddenly in 1941 and is best known for the reaction that they developed while at Parke, Davis & Co. This reaction involves the reduction of ketones using a zinc amalgam and HCl. It has been employed in the preparation of polycyclic aromatics and aromatics containing linear hydrocarbon side chains, the latter not being obtainable from a Friedel-Crafts alkylation.


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