PhD 1975, Chemistry
"I’ve greatly enjoyed the opportunity to connect in an interdisciplinary fashion chemistry, things from the flavor and fragrance industry and entomology, developing a number of insect repellents, attractants and feeding deterrents related to flavor and fragrance ingredients. On the business side, I have been able to connect science with business and political issues facing the Flavor & Fragrance and the Semiochemical industries."
Robert Bedoukian has taken his doctorate in chemistry from Purdue University where few have ever taken such a degree. For the past 25 years, he has led a Connecticut company focusing on synthesizing flavors and scents that attract humans and pheromones that attract insects.
Equipped with his Purdue PhD in 1975, Robert became a chemist at Bedoukian Research Inc., a company launched by his father, Paul, to fill a niche as a supplier of high-quality specialty aroma and flavor ingredients.
Robert succeeded his father as president in 1986, and he has enhanced Bedoukian Research’s reputation in the flavor and fragrance and insect control industries for innovation, quality products, customer service and technical expertise. Robert also supervises research and development efforts.
Today, the company employs nearly 60 people, and plans are underway to add a facility for producing larger volumes of its best-selling scents and flavors. It now offers its customers about 450 aroma chemicals and 50 insect pheromones.
While Robert’s focus remains on sustaining the success of this 50-year-old, family owned company, he is constantly reminded of the role that Purdue played during his formative years.
While giving a literature seminar one Saturday morning to the Chemistry Department, he recalls Nobel Laureate Herbert C. Brown standing up and exclaiming: “Mr. Bedoukian, I think you’re trying to snow me!” Bedoukian now says he didn’t really believe the mechanism he was presenting, either.
And there was a much more dramatic and humbling example that was more impactful. “At Purdue I learned the very important lesson about the importance of motivation.
Having just failed my first oral exam, Professor Henry Feuer took me aside, put his arm on my shoulder and told me that my ‘cavalier attitude’ was a factor in the decision not to pass me,” he says. “Everything changed for me after that experience.”
BS ’70, Chemical Engineering, Tufts University
PhD ’75, Organic Chemistry, Purdue University
2010-Present Advisory Council, Western Connecticut Health Network Biomedical Research
2001-06 Board member, Fragrance Materials Association (now International Fragrance Association of North America)
1990-Present Board member, Research Institute for Fragrance Materials
1986-Present President, Bedoukian Research
1996-2005 Founder, president, American Semiochemicals Association