Dr. Henry A. Hill Distinguished Lecture

Dr. Henry Aaron Hill (1915 - 1979)

Dr. Henry Aaron Hill, the renowned African American chemists in whose memory this Distinguished Lecture is established, was a former Chairman of the American Chemical Society Northeast Section (1963) and President of the American Chemical Society (ACS) in 1977. Dr. Hill’s outstanding contributions to chemistry, particularly industrial chemistry, and to the professional welfare of chemists are legendary. Dr. Hill’s first concern and interest was always in his fellow humans, and this was the driving force behind all that he did both in the chemical community and the world at large.

Henry Hill was a native of St. Joseph, Missouri. He was a graduate of Johnson C. Smith University in North Carolina and received a doctorate degree from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in 1942. He began a professional career in industrial chemistry in that same year, with the North Atlantic Research Corporation in Newtonville, Massachusetts. He eventually rose to become vice-president, while continuing to conduct research and development on water-based plants, fire-fighting foam, and several types of synthetic rubber. After leaving North Atlantic Research, he worked as a group leader in the research laboratories of the Dewey and Almy Chemical Company before starting his own entrepreneurial venture—National Polychemicals in 1952. Ten years later he founded Riverside Research Laboratories in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The firm offered research, development and consulting services in resins, rubbers, textiles, and polymer reduction. Riverside Research Laboratory introduced four successful commercial enterprises, including its own manufacturing affiliate. Dr. Hill, was appointed by President Lydon Johnson to the National Commission on Product Safety and became active in research and testing programs in the fields of product flammability and product safety.

The ACS was always very close to Dr. Hill’s heart. His active career with the ACS began in the middle 1950s in the Northeastern Section. Dr. Hill served on various Northeastern Section committees, became a councilor in 1961, and was Chairman of the Section in 1963. He served the ACS in important national positions including secretary and chairman of the Professional Relations Committee, ACS Council, Policy Committee, Board of Directors and then ultimately serving as president in 1977. Dr. Henry Hill was the first African American to become president of the American Chemical Society.

He made an especially significant impact in professional policy by pioneering establishment of a set of guidelines defining acceptable behavior for employers in their professional relations with chemists and chemical engineers. This effort resulted in the ACS landmark document entitled “Professional Employment Guidelines.”

In recognition of his many outstanding achievements NOBCChE identifies an outstanding Scientist or Engineer to be designated as the Henry A. Hill Distinguished Lecturer.


This award is sponsored by the Northeast Section of the American Chemical Society and the MIT of Chemistry.


Year Name Affiliation
1982 Dr. Walter Cooper Eastman Kodak
1983  No award designated  
1984  No award designated  
1985  No award designated  
1986 Dr. C. S. Kiang Georgia Institute of Technology
1987 Dr. Samuel P. Massie US Naval Academy
1988 Dr. W. Lincoln Hawkins AT&T Bell Laboratories (retired)
1989 No award designated  
1990 Dr. Jeannie Patrick Rohm & Haas Company
1991 Dr. Hazle J. Shorter DuPont Merck Pharmaceutical
1992 Dr. Sidney A. McNairy, Jr. National Institute of Health
1993  No award designated  
1994 Dr. Shirley Jackson President, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
1995  No award designated  
1996  No award designated  
1997 Dr.  Ned Heindel Lehigh University
1998 Dr. Linda Meade-Tollin University of Arizona
1999 Dr. Gregory H. Robinson University of Georgia, Athens
2000 Dr. James W. Mitchell Lucent Tehnologies
2001 Dr. Isiah Warner Lousiana State University
2002 Dr. Robert L. Ford Southern University and A&M College
2003 Dr. Yetunde Taiwo Procter & Gamble Pharmaceuticals
2004 Dr. Paula T. Hammond Massachusetts Institute of Technology
2005 Dr. Willie E. May National Institute of Standards and Technology
2005 Dr. Sharon Haynie E. I. DuPont Company
2007 Dr. Reatha Clark King General Mills Foundation (retd.)/NACD Chair
2008 Dr. James West Johns Hopkins University
2009 Dr. Richard Davis BIPM
2010 Dr. Joe Francisco Purdue University
2011 Dr. Warren Washington National Center for Atmospheric research
2012 Dr. Roderic Pettigrew NIBIB
2013 Garland L. Thompson, Esq. Thompson Scribeworks
2014 Tim Williamson Co-founder and CEO of The Idea Village,
2015 To be announced