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Joseph S. Cantrell

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

Joseph S. Cantrell, 76, emeritus professor of chemistry and biochemistry at Miami University, in Oxford, Ohio, died suddenly on Jan. 6 in Pearl River, La.

Born in Parker, Kan., Cantrell received an A.B. in chemistry and physics from Kansas State Teachers College, Emporia. He served in the U.S. Army from 1954 to 1957, before returning to graduate studies in physical chemistry at Kansas State University, Manhattan. He earned an M.S. in 1957 and a Ph.D. in 1961, specializing in X-ray crystallography.

Cantrell then joined Procter & Gamble as a research chemist in its Miami Valley Laboratories. Four years later, he joined Miami University's department of chemistry as an assistant professor. He became professor in 1985.

While at the university, Cantrell began a 30-year affiliation with Mound Laboratory, in Miamisburg, participating mainly in X-ray diffraction investigations of radioactive compounds, metal hydrides, and nonradioactive high-energy compounds. He worked with Robert Bowman on the synergistic application of solid-state nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy and powder X-ray diffraction to characterize solid metal hydrides.

Cantrell also worked on flavonoid compounds; thin films and interfacial structures; electron diffraction; and applications of solar energy, photoelectrochemical processes, and electrochemistry.

After retiring from Miami University, he performed contract chemical studies for Lockheed Martin to assist in solving problems related to the space shuttle Columbia disaster in 2003.

He was an emeritus member of ACS, joining in 1954 and serving as chair of its Cincinnati Section in 1985. He was also a member of the Electrochemical Society, the American Crystallographic Association, the American Physical Society, the International Solar Energy Society, and Sigma Xi.

Cantrell is survived by his wife, Margaret; three sons, Mark, Keith, and Kenneth; and six grandchildren.

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


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