Gordon Research Conferences


The GRC Director is the President and chief executive officer of the organization and performs the duties designated by the Board of Trustees. As stated in the organization's bylaws, the Director has the responsibility and authority to: cooperate with the Conference Chairs on technical functions of the Conferences; employ and supervise an adequate office staff; obtain adequate publication of the Conferences' announcements; maintain good relationships with scientific organizations and with the meeting host organizations; keep the Council Members informed concerning the state and operation of the Conferences; and to serve as executive and recording secretary of the Council. The Director also makes a full annual report to the Board of Trustees at each meeting of the Board.

Since the organization's beginning in 1931, Gordon Research Conferences has had five Directors. More information about each Director is presented below.

Nancy Ryan Gray

Nancy Ryan Gray

Director from 2003-Present

Nancy Ryan Gray is the current Director of the Gordon Research Conferences.

Nancy received her B.S. degree in chemistry from the University of Notre Dame in 1981 and her Ph.D. in Fuel Chemistry from The Pennsylvania State University in 1985. She was a Scientific Fellow at the Institute for Atomic and Molecular Physics in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, during 1984. Nancy has participated in and been an invited speaker at the Analytical Pyrolysis Gordon Conference.

Prior to joining GRC, Nancy served as the Director of Membership at the American Chemical Society (ACS). The Membership Division included the Departments of Career Services, Membership Activities, Meetings and Expositions, Awards and Divisional Activities, Local Section and Community Activities, and Industry Member Programs. In addition to serving as Membership Director, Nancy was the liaison to the Board Committee on Grants and Awards and the Council Committee on Nominations and Elections and was responsible for stewarding the ACS national election process.

Prior to joining the ACS, Nancy spent nine years working as an industrial research chemist at Exxon Production Research Company in Houston, Texas. Nancy served as Research Specialist in Organic Chemistry working in the Environmental Conservation Section where she was responsible for communicating chemical data and technical results to operations and field management personnel at Exxon as well as to environmental compliance regulators and government representatives. Nancy developed, organized, and presented technical training courses in oil and gas exploration and production, petroleum geochemistry, and environmental site assessment and remediation.

Nancy is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry, a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and a member of the American Chemical Society.

Carlyle B. Storm

Carlyle B. Storm

Director from 1993-2003

Carlyle B. Storm is Director Emeritus of the Gordon Research Conferences.

Carl was the Director of the Gordon Research Conferences from 1993 until September of 2003. He received his B.S., M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in chemistry from the Johns Hopkins University. After post doctoral work at Stanford University (coordination chemistry) and the NIH (metalloproteins) he joined the faculty at Howard University in 1968. His research at Howard was in the areas of inorganic biochemistry, porphyrin chemistry, geochemistry, and magnetic resonance. In 1985 he moved to the Los Alamos National Laboratory as a staff member in the energetic materials program. When he retired from Los Alamos in 1993 he was Chief Scientist for the Energetic Materials and Testing Division. He was the founding Chair of the Energetic Materials GRC and over the years has participated in the Metals in Biology, Tetrapyrroles, Isotopes in Biological and Chemical Sciences, and Organic Geochemistry meetings.

Alexander M. Cruickshank

Alexander M. Cruickshank

Director from 1968-1993

Alexander M. Cruickshank is Director Emeritus of the Gordon Research Conferences.

Alex was born in Marlboro, New Hampshire December 13, 1919. He moved to Westerly, Rhode Island at age 10. He took his B.S. in chemistry at Rhode Island State College in 1943. While working at Rhode Island State College as an instructor he took his M.S. in chemistry in 1945. He earned his Ph.D. in chemistry from the University of Massachusetts in 1954. Alex served on the chemistry faculty at the University of Rhode Island from 1953 to 1982 and was Chair of the Chemistry Department from 1976 to 1982.

The Gordon Research Conferences moved from Gibson Island in Maryland to Colby Junior College, New London, New Hampshire in 1947. In that summer of 1947, Alex Cruickshank spent 10 weeks as the site manager for the Gordon Research Conferences and his wife, Irene, served as Conference secretary. Alex continued as the New Hampshire operations manager and Assistant Director for GRC until 1968. When George Parks retired as Director, Alex assumed that position. He served as Director until his retirement in 1993 (a total of 47 years of service with GRC).

W. George Parks

W. George Parks

Director from 1947-1968

W. George Parks was the second Director of the Gordon Research Conferences.

Parks was born in Rockwood, Pennsylvania on December 20, 1904. After attending the University of Pennsylvania for his undergraduate degree, Parks went to Columbia University in New York, where he earned both Master's and Ph.D. degrees in chemistry. His 1931 doctoral thesis was titled "The Activity Coefficients and Heats of Transfer of Cadmium-Sulfate from Electromotive Force Measurements at 25 And 0 Degrees". Upon graduation, Parks accepted a position on the faculty at Rhode Island State College, later renamed the University of Rhode Island, where he taught for thirty-seven years as a chemistry professor.

In 1947, Parks was appointed director of what would soon become the Gordon Research Conferences. Among his first acts was to select a new venue for the conferences: Colby Junior College in New London, New Hampshire, where Parks was a trustee. He also hired Alexander and Irene Cruickshank to assist in the administrative operations and running of the conferences. After running ten conferences in the summer of 1947, the GRC headquarters were moved to the University of Rhode Island. During the next two decades, Parks presided over steady growth in the number of conferences and attendees.

In 1950, Parks became chairman of the chemistry department at the University of Rhode Island. In 1968, after twenty-one years as director of GRC, Parks resigned and Alexander Cruickshank assumed directorship of the conferences. Parks also resigned his post as professor at the University of Rhode Island, but continued on as professor emeritus until his death in October 1975.

Neil E. Gordon

Neil E. Gordon

Director from 1931-1947

Neil E. Gordon was the founder of the Gordon Research Conferences.

Born on October 7, 1886, Neil Elbridge Gordon grew up in a central New York farmhouse, the third of four children. From a young age, Gordon enjoyed his studies, math in particular, and was often seen doing household chores with a book in hand. A studious young man, Gordon quickly set his sights on a career in academia. After graduating from high school in just two years, he attended Syracuse Business School, then Syracuse University, where he received his Ph.B. (Bachelor of Philosophy) in 1911, majoring in mathematics and minoring in chemistry. In 1912, he received a Master's Degree from Syracuse before attending Johns Hopkins University for his Ph.D., which he earned in 1917, this time with a major in chemistry and a minor in mathematics.

After several relatively short teaching stints, Gordon settled in at Maryland State Agricultural College, soon to be named the University of Maryland, as Assistant Professor of Physical and Organic Chemistry. After two years, Gordon was promoted to professor and also asked to chair the chemistry department, where he served for eight years. In the interim, Gordon helped found the ACS Section (later Division) of Chemical Education and launched the Journal of Chemical Education in January 1924.

In 1928, Gordon resigned from the University of Maryland to accept the newly established Francis P. Garvan Chair of Chemical Education at Johns Hopkins University. Building on experiences with organizing scientific discussions as an undergraduate, Gordon took over an intermittent set of meetings that had been held in the chemistry department since the mid-1920s. In 1931, Gordon organized the first formal conference; its success in stimulating discussion on various cutting-edge scientific topics led to additional week-long conferences in subsequent years. Starting in 1934, the conferences were held on nearby Gibson Island.

To the surprise of colleagues and family, Gordon resigned from his position at Johns Hopkins University and accepted a post as Chairman of the Chemistry Department at Central College in Missouri in 1936. At Central College, Gordon established the Hooker Scientific Library, later renamed the Kresge-Hooker Scientific Library, and became Secretary of the American Association for the Advancement of Science [AAAS]. He also renewed his involvement in the "AAAS-Gibson Island Conferences", as they were then called, and was named their first director. In the spring of 1942, Gordon left Central College for a post as Chairman of the Chemistry Department at Wayne University in Detroit, taking with him the Hooker Scientific Library and continuing his participation in the research conferences. In 1946, Gordon resigned as director of the Conferences. Shortly thereafter, in 1947, Gordon resigned from the Chemistry Department at Wayne University. In 1948, shortly before his death, the research conferences were formally renamed the Gordon Research Conferences in his honor. Neil Elbridge Gordon died in May 1949.

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