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Wallace R. Brode

Photo of Wallace R. Brode

Awards & Distinctions

1961 OSA President Wallace Reed Brode was born 12 June 1900 in Walla Walla, Wash.  He was one of a set of triplets.  Brode received a Ph.D. in chemistry from the University of Illinois in 1925.  His thesis was on the absorption spectra of optically active dyes.  While working on his thesis in Illinois, Brode also worked as a junior chemist at the National Bureau of Standards in Washington, D.C.

In 1926 Brode won a Guggenheim fellowship and studied under chemistry professors at Leipzig, Zurich, and Liverpool.  He returned to the U.S. in 1928 and became an assistant professor of chemistry at Ohio State University (OSU), where he remained for 20 years.  In 1930 he designed ball-and-stick molecular models (and persuaded Sargent Scientific Company to manufacture them), which later became standard teaching aids. Brode designed and built one of the first recording spectrophotometers.  He also authored more than 65 papers.  His book Chemical Spectroscopy became a standard text in the field.

During World War II he was associated with the Office of Scientific Research and Development and served as head of the Paris branch toward the end of the war.  From 1945 to 1947 he headed the science department of the Naval Ordnance Test Station, Inyokern, Calif.

 In 1947, while still a professor at OSU he accepted a temporary position at NBS as an associate director, and a year later he resigned his professorship to become associate director at NBS.  He was responsible for chemistry, optics, and the foreign relations and publications of NBS. During this time period NBS was outgrowing its downtown Washington headquarters and over Brode’s strong objections a decision was made to move NBS to Gaithersburg, Md.   Brode felt that in moving NBS to the suburbs the easy contact with outside visitors would be lost.

In 1958 Brode resigned his position at NBS to become science advisor to Secretary of State John Foster Dulles (and later to Christian Herter).   One aim of Brode’s new job was the re-establishment of scientific attach√© positions in a number of embassies. He persuaded several reputable scientists to accept such posts.  Brode became a scientific statesman. He left his position in the State Department in 1960, and then in retirement was able to write, travel, and attend to professional society duties.

The 26 years that Wallace Brode lived in Washington were quite.  Besides his administrative work at NBS he continued to publish papers in spectroscopy, and he was active in OSA, the American Chemical Society (ACS), the Association for the Advancement of Science, and Sigma Xi, serving as president of all three organizations.  As part of his work with ACS, Brode served as chair of the building committee that supervised the design and construction of a new headquarters building. He saved one small room on the first floor for the new executive office of OSA.

 Brode died in 1979.

Document Created: 26 Jul 2023
Last Updated: 28 Aug 2023

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