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Dale N. Robertson

by Susan J. Ainsworth
July 20, 2009 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 87, Issue 29

Dale N. Robertson, 84, a research chemist who contributed to the development of the Norplant implantable contraceptive device, died unexpectedly on April 6.

Born in Whittier, Calif., he served in the Army Air Force during World War II. After returning from the service, he received an undergraduate degree in chemistry in 1949 from Pomona College. He then earned an M.S. in 1951 and a Ph.D. in 1953, both in biochemistry, from the University of Wisconsin, Madison. He served as fellow of the Mellon Institute in Pittsburgh.

Robertson began his career at Dow Chemical in 1954, working as a bioorganic chemist in the biochemistry department. Then in 1960, he moved to Boulder, Colo., to work for Arapahoe Chemicals, which became a division of Syntex. He later became assistant director of research.

He joined the Center for Biomedical Research of the Population Council, in New York City, working for the International Committee for Contraception Research. Robertson contributed to the development of the Norplant subdermal contraceptive system and was the principal developer of the Norplant II system and of an intrauterine device to deliver contraceptive steroid. After retiring in 1993, he returned to Colorado.

Robertson published many papers in scientific journals and held at least 25 patents.

An emeritus member of ACS, he joined in 1948 and was active on a national level and in the Midland Section and the Colorado Section, for which he served as treasurer, chair, and councilor. In 1965, he received the Colorado Section's Meritorious Service Award. He and his wife, Alice, designed the insignia that appears on ACS Colorado Section awards and letterhead.

Robertson was a member of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Institute of Chemists, the New York Academy of Sciences, and Sigma Xi. A private pilot, Robertson was president of the Boulder Aeronautical Association and founder of the Boulder Aviation Council.

He is survived by his wife of almost 58 years, Alice; and a son, Scott.

Susan J. Ainsworth writes obituaries. Obituary notices may be sent to and should include a detailed educational and professional history.



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