Frank Sherwood Rowland: Nobel Prize Winner

Frank Sherwood Rowland: Nobel Prize Winner

Frank Sherwood Rowland (1927-2012), is one of OWU’s most prominent alumni as the 1995 Nobel Prize winner in chemistry.

A Delaware, Ohio, native, Rowland grew up surrounded by Ohio Wesleyan, as his father was a professor of mathematics at the university. Rowland was an accelerated student from the beginning and graduated from high school at age 16.

During Rowland’s first two years of college, many students had gone to war but Rowland was not yet 18. Rowland played on both the Battling Bishops’ basketball and baseball teams. Rowland was eligible to graduate in three years but as he was nearing his 18th birthday, decided to enlist in the Navy, where a significant amount of his time was given to hard athletic work.

When Rowland returned to OWU at age 19 he decided to take two more years to graduate and finished in 1948 with a triple major in chemistry, mathematics, and physics.

Rowland continued on to graduate school at the University of Chicago. In Chicago, Rowland was assigned a mentor, Willard Libby, who was a 1960 Nobel Prize winner in chemistry.

Upon graduation with a Master’s of Science in 1951 and a Ph.D. in 1952, Rowland went on to become a professor at Princeton University, the University of Kansas, and the University of California at Irvine, where he continued until retirement.

Rowland and his fellow chemist, Mario Molina, made significant advancements in the discovery of the effects of chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) on the ozone layer. This also was an important discovery in regards to ozone-depletion and global warming awareness. Since then, CFCs have been banned in several countries and further investigation has progressed. Numerous countries signed the Montreal Protocol in 1987 to get rid of such dangerous chemicals.

Rowland was elected into the National Academy of Sciences in 1978.