Diverse Science

Ferguson, Lloyd N. | Organic Chemistry. A Science and an Art.

  • First edition, first printing and a lovely copy of this uncommon work by the prominent chemist and educator Lloyd N. Ferguson (1918-2011). As Ferguson notes in the foreword, he wrote this volume as a supplement to standard organic chemistry textbooks, to offer “more commentary on the uses of organic substances... It can make a chemistry course more relevant and motivate those who have not yet developed an interest in the subject”.

    Lloyd’s 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). Later he went to California State University at Los Angeles, serving as chemistry department chair between 1968 and 1971.

    Ferguson’s research between the late 1940s and early 60s “included studies of the chemical properties of aromatic molecules... Ferguson also studied the molecular components and biochemical processes of taste⁠—research that is valuable, as Ferguson argued in his 1958 article titled ‘the Physicochemical Aspects of the Sense of Taste,’ in gaining a fuller understanding ‘about the ways chemicals stimulate biological activity’” (Krapp, Notable Black American Scientists, p. 117). At Cal State his research focused on alicycles, which he described as supplying “models for elucidating the chemistry of natural products such as steroids, alkaloids, vitamins, carbohydrates, [and] antibiotics” (Krapp). Ferguson was also very active in administrative roles, and was publicly recognised for his extensive work mentoring science students from under-represented backgrounds.

  • Boston: Willard Grant Press, 1972.

    Octavo. Original white wrappers printed in red and orange. Diagrams within the text. Spine faintly toned, binding very lightly rubbed with a few light marks and a small scuff and dent on the lower wrapper. Excellent condition.