Parr Lecture

Samuel Parr
Samuel W. Parr

The Parr Lecture is named after Samuel Wilson Parr, the founder of chemical engineering at Illinois. A native of Granville, Illinois, Parr became professor of applied chemistry and head of industrial chemistry at Illinois in 1891.

Parr inaugurated the curriculum named “Chemical Engineering-for the degree of Bachelor of Science in Chemical Engineering.” This curriculum was first listed in the University of Illinois Catalog for 1901-02 and has continued since. Under Parr’s leadership, the division of Chemical Engineering emerged, which later became the Department of Chemical Engineering.

He was a prolific author and made numerous discoveries. Parr developed an alloy—called Illium, made of nine different metals—that has powerful corrosion-resisting properties. He also invented the first simplified instrument for measuring the heating value of coal. The Parr Calorimeter and subsequent developments contributed significantly to the development of a market for the extensive reserves of bituminous coal in Illinois at a time when most believed that only eastern coal could be used for heating. The coking process for bituminous coal he developed was superior to any hitherto known. Responding to the interest in his new invention, Parr founded the Standard Calorimeter Company, later renamed the Parr Instrument Company. An early Parr Calorimeter can be viewed in the north lobby of Roger Adams Laboratory. The Parr Instrument Company, based in Moline, Illinois, continues its reputation for fine craftsmanship and outstanding engineering.

Thank you to the Parr Instrument Company, which sponsors the Parr Lecture.

Previous Parr Lecturers

2019: Sharon Glotzer Engineering Entropy in Colloidal Matter

2018: David Sholl | Expanding the Chemical Palette for Reliable Adsorption-based Separations

2017: Keith Johnston (PhD ’81) | Helping Nanoparticles Reach Their Colloidal Potential

2016: Curtis W. Frank (PhD ’72) | Solid Matter at Interfaces

2015: Joan F. Brennecke  (PhD ’89) | Ionic Liquids for Post-Combustion CO2,” PhD

2014: Mark E. Davis | Fighting Cancer with Nanoparticle Medicines: The Nanoscale Matters!

2013: Nicholas A. Peppas | New Frontiers in the Pharmaceutical and Medical Sciences: Advanced Intelligent Hydrogels for Protein Delivery

2011: William F. Banholzer (PhD ’83) | The Future of Fuels and Feedstocks: Addressing Hype, Limitations and Research Strategies

2009: Frances H. Arnold | In the Light of Directed Evolution: Pathways of Protein Adaptation

2008: Dennis M. Houston (BS ‘74) | The Energy Challenge

2006: Alice P. Gast | Proteins and Enzymes at Membrane Interfaces

2003: Robert A. Brown | Chemical Engineering in the 21st Century: Challenges for the Evolution of the Discipline

2002: Steven L. Miller (BS ’67) | The Crucible of Change