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by Victoria Gilman
March 15, 2004 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 82, Issue 11

Richard Bersohn, a chemistry professor retired from Columbia University, died on Nov. 18, 2003, at the age of 78.

Born in New York City, Bersohn grew up just blocks away from the American Museum of Natural History, where he developed a passion for science. He received a B.S. in chemistry from Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1943. He then joined the Army for two years and worked on the Manhattan Project.

Bersohn received an M.A. in 1947 and a Ph.D. in 1949, both in physics, from Harvard University. He taught at Cornell University for eight years before joining Columbia in 1959. He served as head of the division of chemical physics of the American Physical Society (APS) in 1971 and as chairman of the advisory committee to the chemistry department of Brookhaven National Laboratory from 1981 to 1984.

His scientific interests centered on the dissociation of molecules by light into fragments and also on the physical and chemical properties of those fragments. He was the first to prove experimentally that some rotating molecules can absorb light and dissociate before they complete a rotation. He was a pioneer in biophysics and in molecular reaction kinetics.

For his work, Bersohn received the 1985 Herbert P. Broida Prize in chemical physics from APS. He was also a member of the Committee on Atomic & Molecular Science of the National Research Council and a member of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences.

Bersohn is survived by his wife, Nehama; four children; and two grandchildren.


Rudolph S. Bottei, professor of chemistry and assistant department chairman at the University of Notre Dame, South Bend, Ind., died on April 23, 2003. He was 73.

Born in Old Forge, Pa., Bottei received a B.S. from Wilkes College, Wilkes-Barre, Pa., in 1950; an M.S. from Cornell University in 1952; and a Ph.D. from Princeton University in 1956.

In 1955, he joined the faculty at Notre Dame, where he enjoyed a 48-year career. His research focused on analytical and environmental chemistry. In addition to accepting the post as assistant chair in 1964, Bottei served as research director for graduate and undergraduate students and held several summer faculty research appointments at Argonne National Laboratory.

For ACS, Bottei served as chair of the St. Joseph Valley Section. He also served on the executive committee of the Division of Analytical Chemistry for 13 years, as treasurer for seven years, and as membership chair for 13 years. He received the division's outstanding service award in 1978.

Bottei is survived by his wife, Rita; four children; and five grandchildren. Joined ACS in 1956.


Kenneth W. Greenlee, a chemist retired from Albany International Corp., died on Dec. 1, 2003. He was 87.

Greenlee graduated from Antioch College, Yellow Springs, Ohio, in 1938 with a B.S. with distinction in chemistry. He then completed his Ph.D. in chemistry at Ohio State University in 1942.

Following graduation, Greenlee was a lecturer in the department of chemistry at Ohio State for 21 years. There he conducted research involving the synthesis and properties of hydrocarbons. During World War II, Ohio State's hydrocarbon research project was put on a government secrecy list and was later awarded a citation. Greenlee also held positions with the Hydrocarbon Research Project of the American Petroleum Institute, serving as associate director from 1944 to 1959 and director from 1959 to 1963.

In 1963, Greenlee founded Chemical Samples Co. in Columbus, Ohio, which became a major producer of specialty hydrocarbons, including insect pheromones. The company was acquired in 1978 by Albany International, where he served as vice president of scientific affairs until his retirement in 1984.

For ACS, Greenlee cofounded the Small Chemical Businesses Division in 1978 and served as its chair in 1980–81 and as editor of the division newsletter for 15 years. He served as chair of the ACS Columbus Section in 1955 and won the Columbus Section Award in 1988.

Joined ACS in 1941; emeritus member.


Benjamin L. Van Duuren, an expert in the field of cancer causation and prevention, died on Nov. 13, 2003, at the age of 77.

Van Duuren earned an Sc.D. in organic chemistry in 1951 from the University of South Africa, in Pretoria. He then held a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, for two years, and spent two more years as a research fellow at the University of California, Los Angeles.

Following his studies, Van Duuren took a position as a research chemist at DuPont in Buffalo, N.Y. In 1955, he joined the Nelson Institute of Environmental Medicine at New York University Medical Center as an instructor, reaching full professor in 1969. He also served as director of the Laboratory of Organic Chemistry & Carcinogenesis from 1965 to 1991.

While at the institute, Van Duuren's research included the application of analytical organic techniques to identifying chemicals in cigarettes and cigarette smoke. He also studied the mode of action of chlorinated compounds.

Van Duuren served on numerous scientific committees and on the editorial advisory boards for journals such as Cancer Research and the Journal of Environmental Pathology & Toxicology.

Van Duuren is survived by his wife, Satloo Gurbaxani.


Leonard A. Wenzel, professor emeritus of chemical engineering at Lehigh University, Bethlehem, Pa., died on Nov. 23, 2003, at the age of 80.

Wenzel earned a bachelor's degree in chemical engineering from Pennsylvania State University in 1943. After serving in the Navy during World War II, he earned an M.S. in 1948 and a Ph.D. in 1950 from the University of Michigan. He was appointed to the department of chemical engineering at Lehigh in 1951.

While at Lehigh, Wenzel's research interests spanned thermodynamics, cryogenics, and mixed-gas adsorption. He is most widely recognized, however, for coauthoring the textbook "Principles of Unit Operations," which has been translated into several languages and is considered a classic in the field.

In addition to his research and writing, Wenzel served as department chairman for 21 years. During that time, he oversaw the growth of the department, as well as its move from its home in the Chandler-Ullmann Building to its then-new home in the Martin Dewey Whitaker Laboratory.

Wenzel was as active in the community as he was in academia. He served as a commissioner of the Bethlehem Housing Authority, chairman of the board of the South Bethlehem Neighborhood Center, and a tutor for Bethlehem's Broughal Middle School.

Wenzel is survived by his wife, Constance; one son; three daughters; three stepsons; one stepdaughter; nine grandchildren; four great-grandchildren; and three step-grandchildren. Joined ACS in 1944; emeritus member.

Obituaries are written by Victoria Gilman. Obituary notices may be sent by e-mail to and should include detailed educational and professional history.


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