Willis R. Whitney

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Willis R. Whitney
Willis Rodney Whitney (1890).jpg
Whitney as a MIT faculty member
BornAugust 11, 1868
DiedJanuary 9, 1958(1958-01-09) (aged 89)
NationalityUnited States
Known forGeneral Electric Company
AwardsWillard Gibbs Award (1916)
Perkin Medal (1921)
IEEE Edison Medal (1934)
Public Welfare Medal (1937)
John Fritz Medal (1943)
IRI Medal (1946)
Scientific career
Fieldschemistry, inorganic chemistry, electrochemistry

Willis Rodney Whitney (August 22, 1868 – January 9, 1958) was an American chemist and founder of the research laboratory of the General Electric Company.[1]

Early life and studies[edit]

He was born in Jamestown, New York, the son on John J. and Agnes (nee Reynolds) Whitney. In 1890, he achieved a bachelor of science degree at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he then worked as Assistant Instructor of Chemistry until 1892. After that, he studied at the University of Leipzig, Germany, under Wilhelm Ostwald, where in 1896, he achieved a Ph.D. title.

Until 1908, he advanced his paused career at the MIT, specializing in electrochemistry and developing an electrochemical theory of corrosion.

General Electric[edit]

Since 1900, Whitney had been working part-time as an advisor at the newly founded research lab of General Electric. He eventually moved away from the MIT and into a full job at the GE labs. In 1915, he had about 250 staff members, Irving Langmuir and William David Coolidge among them. They worked on vacuum- and gas-filled lamps, the wireless telegraph, and X-ray technology.

Whitney stepped down from his position in 1932, to be succeeded by William David Coolidge as director of the General Electric Research Laboratory.

He died at Schenectady, New York in 1958.

Memberships and positions[edit]

Whitney was member of:

Awards and titles[edit]


  1. ^ "Willis R. Whitney". IEEE Global History Network. IEEE. Archived from the original on 20 November 2014. Retrieved 25 July 2011.
  2. ^ "Public Welfare Award". National Academy of Sciences. Archived from the original on 29 December 2010. Retrieved 14 February 2011.

External links[edit]