Indiana University Bloomington Indiana University Bloomington IU Bloomington

The Frank C. Mathers Lectureship in Chemistry

The Frank C. Mathers Lectureship in Chemistry 

The Frank C. Mathers Lectureship in Chemistry, established in 1970, was made possible through an anonymous gift from a former student of the late Professor Mathers. The Chemistry Department is grateful to those alumni who have made contributions to help support the Mathers Lectureship. 




FRANK C. MATHERS (1881-1973)
On his retirement in 1950, Professor Emeritus Frank C. Mathers had been a member of the faculty of the Indiana University Department of Chemistry for 47 years, and he continued to work regularly in his research laboratory for 23 years thereafter. 

His main research interest was in the field of electrochemistry, especially electroplating, although he also worked on the chemistry of selenium, tellurium, and other research subjects. His research in the chemistry of electroplating was mostly concerned with addition agents for improving the character of cathode deposits and has had many important practical applications in the metal-finishing industry. For example, he discovered that the use of glue and cresol in tin baths would make tin plating more successful and economical. This process was used extensively during and after World War I when only impure tin was available in the US. Improvements in electroplating of aluminum and oxidizing silver were also discovered in his laboratories. 

Professor Mathers felt his most important research discovery was a workable method of preparing fluorine gas. Previously, the only known procedure for preparing fluorine was very difficult and unreliable. This discovery occurred essentially by accident in an experiment designed to produce a fluorine-carbon compound. The discovery was reported in the chemical literature and attracted international attention because for the first time the production of fluorine in quantity was possible and feasible.

In addition to his research activities, Professor Mathers was very much involved in teaching and became known as a first-rate teacher of chemistry who knew and appreciated its practical applications. He remembered with fondness the personal contact he had with his students and the opportunities to help them develop professionally. He was pleased to see many of them advance into top-level positions in industry and educational institutions.

Professor Mathers was born in 1881 a few miles from Bloomington. He received his A.B. degree from this Department in 1903. He continued his studies and received the A.M. degree in 1905, also from I.U., and the Ph.D. degree in 1907 from Cornell University. He then returned to I.U. and was promoted to Assistant Professor of Chemistry. He advanced to Associate Professor in 1913 and to Professor in 1923, and served as Interim Chairman of the Department in 1946-47. In 1950 he retired and received the title Professor Emeritus. He died in 1973 at the age of 92.

Frank C. Mathers Lecturers
2025 Peidong Yang
 William M. Gelbart
2022 Eric V. Anslyn
2022 Younan Xia
2020 Richard Caprioli
2019 Sir Fraser Stoddart
2017 Catherine J. Murphy
2015 Michael T. Bowers
2013 Trevor Douglas
2011 Samuel I. Stupp
2009 James W. Jorgensen
2009 J. Michael Ramsey
2009 R. Mark Wightman
2004 John E. Johnson
1990 Roald Hoffmann
1985 Alan R. Fersht
1983 Harry C. Gatos
1981 Gilbert Stork
1980 Earl L. Muetterties
1979 Jerrold Meinwald
1978 R. J. P. Williams
1977 Henry Eyring
1976 Linus Pauling
1974 Christian B. Anfinsen
1973 Martin Karplus
1972 William N. Lipscomb
1971 H. Gobind Khorana
1970 John S. Griffith