Wetherill inducted as National Historic Chemical Landmark

Wetherill induction

The plaque for Wetherill's National Historic Chemical Landmark status is unveiled during an April 26 ceremony.

The American Chemical Society (ACS) recognized the R. B. Wetherill Laboratory of Chemistry as a National Historic Chemical Landmark on April 26.

The building has served as a center for chemical education and research in the United States for more than 80 years. Generations of chemists and chemical engineers have studied in the building under renowned faculty, including Purdue Nobel laureates Herbert C. Brown (1979) and Ei-ichi Negishi (2010).

A ceremony held for the hallowed hall took place on the steps where thousands of chemists and their students have ascended for more than 80 years. Negishi, College of Science dean Jeff Roberts, associate dean and Chemistry Prof. Joe Francisco, and several other Purdue Chemistry elite were in attendance. Chemistry department head Paul Shepson and Tim Sands, executive vice president for academic affairs and provost, spoke before the official induction from ACS president Marinda Li Wu. A large, 40-pound plague was unveiled from underneath gold fabric and a large group of students, faculty, staff and community members erupted into applause.

The plaque will be installed between sets of doors on the front of Wetherill. The installation is expected to take place during the fall semester.

Advances made in Wetherill include developments in vapor-phase nitration of saturated hydrocarbons, palladium-catalyzed cross-coupling, tandem mass spectrometry, and the discovery of hydroboration and its application to numerous synthetic pathways. This work has provided versatile techniques for the creation of pharmaceuticals, agricultural chemicals, nitroparaffin-based explosives, and other products.

Named after local physician and lecturer Dr. Richard Benbridge Wetherill, the building was constructed in phases between 1928 and 1955 to accommodate a growing Department of Chemistry.

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