Photo of Walter H. Stockmayer

Walter H. Stockmayer

  • National Medal of Science
  • Chemistry

For his fundamental contributions to the physical chemistry of high polymers.

Walter H. Stockmayer first became interested in the growing field of polymer science in the early 1940s. At the time, he was contributing to classified war research projects and working at Columbia University. Eventually moving to MIT and then Dartmouth, Stockmayer would go on to become a major pioneering figure in the field, spending his career researching the structure and dynamics of polymers.

Polymers are substances that contain a larger number of repeating or similar molecules joined together. They occur naturally in substances such as cellulose, rubber or wool. But synthetic polymers developed into a huge industry over the course of the 20th century and have a wide range of uses: adhesives, coatings, plastics, textile and industrial materials, medical equipment, auto parts and sports equipment.

Stockmayer’s research allowed for a greater scientific understanding of polymer molecules. During his career, Stockmayer also consulted for the research division at the chemical company DuPont.

By Jacob Kerr