Fred Greene and Dietmar Seyferth Share Department Memories in New Video Series

Categories: Faculty, Research, Staff, Students

Professors Greene and Seyferth sat down with Professor Rick Danheiser and reminisced about MIT in the 1950s and 1960s.

In a series of interviews that took place in 2018 and 2019, Professor Emeritus Frederick Greene and Professor Emeritus Dietmar Seyferth (who passed away in 2020), shared stories and memories of the Department of Chemistry and MIT as a whole with Professor Rick Danheiser.

Although their areas of research differed – Greene is an organic chemist, while Seyferth’s research was in inorganic chemistry, the pair shared a long history, first meeting as graduate students at Harvard, then each receiving appointments to the MIT Chemistry faculty (Greene in 1953, Seyferth in 1957) by then-Department Head Arthur C. Cope.

Spearheaded by Danheiser, A Video History of the MIT Chemistry Department covers a range of topics, including Seyferth and Greene’s memories of their fellow faculty members, how they came to be hired, the construction of various lab spaces, developments in teaching and research, the evolution of the department’s graduate program, and much more.

Danheiser produced the series with MIT Video Production, and former staff members Liz McGrath and Emrick Elias, as a means of immortalizing what it was like to study and conduct research in the Department of Chemistry over the decades by hearing straight from the faculty members who experienced it firsthand. 

“My vision is to create a history of the MIT Chemistry Department beginning in the early 1950s through a series of video interviews with emeritus and current MIT faculty and staff,” said Danheiser. “This first installment covers the early 1950s through to the mid 1960s.  Faculty and students find it fascinating to hear how the way we study and conduct research has evolved over the years.”

A Video History of the MIT Department of Chemistry is now available to watch on the Department of Chemistry’s YouTube Channel.