Issue Date: November 6, 2017
Obituary: John M. 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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