The College would like to congratulate the 2007-2008 Gallery of Success awardees, chosen for their outstanding accomplishments in the science and technology fields.
|Please click for biographical sketches|
|Kenneth R. Brennen, Ph.D., CST ’62, ’65|
|Abraham Clearfield, Ph.D., CST ’48, ’51|
Dr. Brennen received both his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in physics from Temple. While completing his M.A. with evening classes, he joined a research team at the University of Pennsylvania Medical School, then studied for his Ph.D. in physical chemistry at Southampton University, England. During a post-doctoral fellowship in the Department of Chemical Engineering and Applied Chemistry at Columbia University, he worked in the areas of biomedical and environmental science. He then joined Medtronic Inc., the world's largest biomedical engineering company, in Minneapolis. After a 28-year career in Research and Development for the company, he retired as Senior Scientist.
Brennen, a native of Phoenixville, has had a love of science since childhood. He was encouraged to attend Temple by his high school guidance counselor, a fellow Temple graduate, and won a full scholarship. He intended to major in biology, chemistry, or physics, a decision settled when Dr. Mary Harbold of the Physics Department offered him a position as a lab instructor during the summer of his sophomore year.
As a student, Brennen served as president of the Temple Chapter of Sigma Pi Sigma physics honor society. One of the highlights of this experience was participating in arrangements for a Physics Department dinner that included five Nobel Prize winners.
During his career as a scientist, Brennen co-founded the Minneapolis Chapter of Electrochemical Society, which quickly grew to become one of its largest. He was also an organizer of the Medtronic Forum, a worldwide society strictly for technical employees of Medtronic Inc, as well as a member of the American Chemical Society and an active participant in the Minneapolis Chapter of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers. Through Medtronic's participation in the Center for Surface Science at the University of Minnesota, he was appointed an adjunct professor.
According to Brennen, a highlight of his career was when he and Verne Baker, a fellow biomedical engineer, were assigned to work with Dutch physicians and engineers to record the electrocardiogram of a large whale in the wild. The group spent time in Alaska and Newfoundland on this project, and developed equipment later adapted by graduate students to study entrapped whales.
Brennen has authored or coauthored fifteen patents and various biomedical journal articles, symposia presentations, and book chapters. In addition to his scientific career, he is also interested in journalism. As a student, he worked on the Temple News and held an editorial position with the Temple poetry magazine; as a scientist, he served as a writer and editor for the Medtronic Forum Highlights, an in-house publication of the Medtronic Forum.
He and his wife Mary have spent the last six years pursuing their interests in RV travel, volunteerism, and nature photography. They have traveled through most of the lower 48 states and in Atlantic Canada. Present plans are to settle down near their five grandchildren in Minnesota.
Dr. Clearfield received both his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in chemistry from Temple, then earned his Ph.D. from Rutgers University in 1954, studying inorganic chemistry and crystallography. Upon graduation, he spent one year with the Army Quartermaster Corporation in Natick, Massachusetts, working on problems related to supplies for the Army. One assignment involved including curling chicken feathers for use in sleeping bags. In 1956, he joined the Titanium Alloy Manufacturing Division of the National Lead Company (now NL Industries) in Niagara Falls, New York. He conducted research on the applications of zirconium compounds in numerous commercial processes, and obtained a number of patents for processes he developed that improved the efficiency of manufacturing.
Clearfield chose Temple because of its affordability, and, once he arrived, received an excellent science education. “I had some really good teachers who I still remember,” he said. “Because of the education I got at Temple, I was able to ace my entrance exams to Rutgers and was awarded a research fellowship.”
In 1963, Clearfield joined the faculty of Ohio University, after a year as a program officer at the National Science Foundation. He rose to the rank of full professor in 1968. During his stay at Ohio University, Clearfield synthesized and determined the structures of a number of zirconium phosphates that became the focus of worldwide research efforts that continue to this day. One of these forms of zirconium phosphate is used as a sorbent in portable artificial kidney machines, and another is used to immobilize certain proteins and DNA for study of their chemical behavior.
In 1976, he joined the faculty at Texas A&M University and served as chairman of the Inorganic Division, associate dean of the College of Science and director of the Materials Science and Engineering Program. During his time at the university, he has worked extensively on layered compounds, intercalation chemistry, and inorganic ion exchangers, including zeolites and metal phosphonate chemistry. Clearfield has received several awards for excellence in teaching and research. In 2007, he was promoted to Distinguished Professor, the university’s highest academic rank.
Clearfield and his wife, Ruth, have been strong supporters of the education of Temple students throughout the years. In 2005, they established the Abraham and Ruth Clearfield Scholarship Fund, to provide scholarships for full-time undergraduate students in chemistry or another physical science with financial need and excellent academic performance.
Clearfield has published 530 papers in peer reviewed journals, edited three books, and holds about 15 patents. “As an academic, you’re never done,” he said. “You’re always striving to be a better teacher and researcher and to contribute more to the community.” In addition to his scientific achievements, he has pursued a strong interest in Jewish history, teaching courses and writing a monthly newspaper column on this subject.
Dr. and Mrs. Clearfield enjoy traveling throughout the world, especially Europe. They reside in College Station, Texas.