John M. Birmingham | November 6, 2017 Issue - Vol. 95 Issue 44 | Chemical & Engineering News
Volume 95 Issue 44 | pp. 43-44 | Obituaries
Issue Date: November 6, 2017

Obituary: John M. Birmingham

Department: ACS News
Keywords: ACS News, obituaries
Credit: Courtesy of Scott Birmingham
John M. Birmingham.
Credit: Courtesy of Scott Birmingham

John M. Birmingham, 87, died on April 24 in Longmont, Colo.

“As a student at Harvard in 1952, John prepared the first organozirconium compound, zirconocene dibromide. John worked in the group of Geoffrey Wilkinson, who, along with Robert B. Woodward in 1951 had just described dicyclopentadienyliron—ferrocene. John wanted to be among the first to work in the emerging field joining organic and inorganic chemistry. In 1960, it was discovered that zirconocene dichloride could be used to catalyze ethylene polymerization. These early discoveries eventually led to metallocene olefin polymerization, which is widely employed to manufacture polymers. John was the founder of Boulder Scientific Company, which today is a leading supplier of metallocenes.”—Scott Birmingham, son

Most recent title: chair, Boulder Scientific Company

Education: B.S., chemistry, MIT, 1951; Ph.D., chemistry, Harvard University, 1955

Survivors: daughter, Kim Kanas; sons, James and Scott

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