Diverse Science

Ferguson, Lloyd N. | Highlights of Alicyclic Chemistry. Part I.

  • First edition, first printing of this foundational work on alicyclic chemistry. Uncommon in the jacket in such nice condition.

    Author Lloyd N. Ferguson (1918-2011) was a distinguished chemist whose interest in science dated to his childhood, when “he bought himself a chemistry set at age 12 and did chemistry experiments in a backyard shed... He put together a moth repellent, invented a spot remover and a silver polish, and developed a lemonade mix. A budding entrepreneur, as well, he sold his inventions to his neighbours” (Spangenburg, African Americans in Science, Math and Invention, p. 80).

    Ferguson attended Berkeley for both his undergraduate and graduate degrees, and was the first African American to earn a PhD in chemistry at the university. In 1945 Ferguson joined the faculty at Howard University, where he would remain for the next two decades. “He served as department head as well from 1958 to 1965. In this capacity, he built the first doctoral program in chemistry at any Black college in the nation” (Spangenberg, p. 80). He later joined the faculty at California State University at Los Angeles, serving as chemistry department chair between 1968 and 1971.

    At Howard, Ferguson did extensive research on the properties of aromatic molecules and the chemistry of taste, and after moving to Cal State he began exploring alicyclic chemistry. “In his 1969 article ‘Alicyclic Chemistry: the Playground for Organic Chemists’, Ferguson describes alicycles as providing ‘ideal systems for measuring electrical and magnetic interaction between nonbonded atoms and for studying the [structural] and mechanistic aspects of organic reactions’, and as supplying ‘models for elucidating the chemistry of natural products such as steroids, alkaloids, vitamins, carbohydrates, [and] antibiotics’” (Krapp, Notable Black American Scientists, p. 118).

    Ferguson was also very active in administrative roles, including as chairman of the American Chemical Society’s Division of Chemical Education and director of Cal State L.A.’s Minority Biomedical Research Support Program, and he was publicly recognised for his extensive work mentoring science students from under-represented backgrounds.

  • Palisade, NJ: Franklin Publishing Company, Inc., 1973.

    Octavo. Original red cloth, titles to spine in gilt on blue ground. With the dust jacket. Chemical diagrams throughout the text. An excellent, fresh copy in the price-clipped jacket that is a little rubbed with some light marks and toning of the edges and spine panel.