The Milton Harris Chair of Materials Science

Milton Harris, '26, was one of OSU's most accomplished and distinguished alumni. He was also a lifelong supporter of the University, and in 1984 established the first endowed chair in University its history.

A native of Portland, Harris came to OSU at 16, and completed his undergraduate work in chemical engineering in three years. Thanks to encouragement and mentoring by a faculty friend, he went on to Yale, where he earned his Ph.D., also in three years.

He kept up this pace throughout his life. In 1931, Harris and other young scientists formed an institute for the study of textiles at the National Bureau of Standards. Their work resulted in fibers that were water repellent, flameproof, and rot proof. He helped develop processes for permanent press in woolen goods and wash-and-wear cotton finishing. His work led ultimately to the development of synthetic polymers such as nylon, polyester, and plastics.

In 1945, Harris founded his own research laboratory, which later became a subsidiary of the Gillette Company. He was director of research and vice president of Gillette from 1956 until his retirement in 1966. He then devoted his energies to the American Chemical Society, of which he served as chairman for five years, and to a host of other scientific organizations and government advisory groups. The holder of 35 patents, Harris took every opportunity to encourage young people to pursue scientific careers.

In addition to the Milton Harris Chair at OSU, his gifts have supported three scholarships, two teaching grants, and awards in chemistry, biochemistry, and basic research. His last major financial gift to OSU was a trust fund that will provide an endowment of roughly $2 million for the Department of Chemistry in 1999. His family continues to support OSU.

Milton Harris died in September 1991.


Mas Subramanian

World-renowned chemist Mas Subramanian was named the second holder of the Milton Harris Chair in Materials Science of the Department of Chemistry in 2006. An internationally-recognized expert on inorganic solid state materials, Subramanian simultaneously became the first Signature Faculty Fellow in the Oregon Nanoscience and Microtechnologies Institute, which is a major collaborative effort of OSU, other Oregon universities, agencies, and private industry.

Subramanian previously worked as a senior scientist in DuPont Central Research and Development. He has published more than 225 papers in professional journals, and his work has yielded 51 patents that are in place or pending.

An expert in such fields as high-temperature superconductivity, thermoelectrics, magnetoresistive materials and solid state, fast ion conductors, Subramanian is a world leader in the discovery and development of new materials. He also developed a “combinatorial approach” to inorganic synthesis, a system to speed up research results in this field.

A native of India, Subramanian received his BS and MS degrees from University of Madras (1975, 1977) and his doctorate from the Indian Institute of Technology (1982); his post-doctoral work took place at Texas A&M University (1982-1984). He has received a wide variety of honors and recognition, including DuPont’s prestigious Charles Pedersen Medal in 2004. Subramanian is an editor of two journals, Solid State Sciences and Progress in Solid State Chemistry.


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