University of Pittsburgh
May 30, 2005

Pitt Professor Who Worked on Manhattan Project to be Honored

Symposium, birthday celebration for Irving Wender June 15
Contact:  412-624-4147

PITTSBURGH—The University of Pittsburgh's Departments of Chemistry and Chemical and Petroleum Engineering, in partnership with Strem Chemicals, Inc., will host a Career Recognition Symposium and 90th Birthday Celebration for Irving Wender, Distinguished University Research Professor of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering, on Wednesday, June 15, from noon to 5:30 p.m., in the Frick Fine Arts Auditorium.

The symposium will feature keynote lectures by distinguished chemists and chemical engineers whose work symbolizes the two major themes of Irving's scientific achievements: the use of metals to incorporate carbon monoxide into molecules and the catalytic conversion of synthesis gas to fuels and chemicals.

Born in New York, N.Y., on June 19, 1915, Wender completed his undergraduate studies in chemistry at the College of the City of New York in 1936. His graduate work was interrupted by his induction into the Army, and he was sent to the University of Chicago to work on the Manhattan Project.

In 1945, Wender earned the Master of Science degree in chemistry from Columbia University. He was discharged from the Army in 1946 and joined the Chemistry Section of the U.S. Bureau of Mines in Pittsburgh, where he showed that coal could be treated as a complex organic substance in reactions.

As Wender pursued his Ph.D. at Pitt, his discoveries in the areas of metal carbonyls and the "oxo" reaction (the catalyzed conversion of an alkene, carbon monoxide, and hydrogen to an aldehyde) won several awards.

In 1981, Wender was appointed research professor in Pitt's Department of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering. In 1994, he was named Distinguished University Research Professor of Engineering and was the first recipient of the Homer H. Lowry Award, presented by the Secretary of Energy in Washington, D.C.

Wender believes coal gasification with carbon dioxide sequestration is a way to extend our energy resources. His present studies are devoted to new ways of producing and storing hydrogen for the "hydrogen economy."

The full schedule of the Career Recognition Symposium and 90th Birthday Celebration for Wender is available at For more information, contact Rob Toplak by telephone at 412-624-9630 or by e-mail at