Carl Shipp Marvel

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Carl Shipp Marvel
Born (1894-09-11)September 11, 1894
Waynesville, IL
Died January 4, 1988
Tucson, AZ
Citizenship United States
Fields Chemistry
Institutions University of Illinois
Alma mater Illinois Wesleyan University
Doctoral advisor William A. Noyes
Doctoral students H.E. Carter
Known for Polymer Chemistry
Notable awards Willard Gibbs Award (1950)
Perkin Medal (1965)
National Medal of Science (1986)

Carl Shipp "Speed" Marvel (born September 11, 1894, Waynesville, Ill., U.S. died January 4, 1988, Tucson, Ariz.) was an American polymer chemist who worked at developing polybenzimidazoles, which are temperature-resistant polymers that are used in the aerospace industry and as a replacement for asbestos.

He graduated from Illinois Wesleyan University in 1915, and was a member of Tau Kappa Epsilon. He obtained the nickname "Speed" early on in his career as a chemist from his habit of rushing to breakfast after studying all night when he was a graduate student at the University of Illinois. However, his studies were interrupted by World War I and during the war he worked under Roger Adams in a lab set up at the university to make fine chemicals that had, until then, been imported from Germany, which at the time was the centre of fine chemical production. He was initiated into Alpha Chi Sigma at the Zeta Chapter, University of Illinois, in 1918.[1]

Also at this time Marvel became a close associate of Wallace Carothers, who was a fellow student at Illinois, and whom he later worked with as a consultant for DuPont when Carothers was carrying out his groundbreaking work on nylon and step-growth polymerization. He was a consultant for DuPont Central Research for over fifty years.

Marvel's early research was in classical organic chemistry, but he soon moved into polymer chemistry for which he is best known. He showed that vinyl monomers tend to add to the growing polymer in a head-to-tail fashion and his work on the low-temperature copolymerization of butadiene and styrene was important to the commercial production of synthetic rubber. This meant that he participated heavily in the U.S. synthetic rubber program when supplies of natural rubber were disrupted during World War II.

His work went on to develop high temperature polymers. He made these by incorporating rigid ring structures into the backbone, as in polyimides, polybenzimidazoles and ladder polymers. Almost no area of polymer chemistry escaped his interest, either at Illinois (from graduate school days until 1961), or at Arizona.

An avid birdwatcher, his over 500 publications include one entitled "Unusual Feeding Habits of the Cape May Warbler".

Honors and awards[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Alpha Chi Sigma Hall of Fame". Alpha Chi Sigma Fraternity. Retrieved 10 October 2013. 

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