Samuel Colville Lind

Called the father of radiation chemistry in America, Samuel Lind was born in McMinnville in 1879, the son of a Swedish immigrant and Union army veteran who practiced law there. He studied classics at Washington and Lee University until his senior year, when a chemistry professor awakened Lind's interest in the subject. After graduate studies at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Lind earned his Ph.D. in 1905 at the University of Leipzig in Germany.

Lind taught chemistry at the University of Michigan until 1910, when he took sabbatical to study radioactivity with Madame Marie Curie in Paris and with Victor Hess, the discoverer of cosmic rays, in Vienna. After returning to America, Lind worked with the Bureau of Mines at Denver, Colorado, separating radium, then a precious metal, from carnotite, and in 1923 he became chief chemist for the Bureau of Mines. From 1926 to 1947 he taught at the University of Minnesota, becoming dean of its institute of technology.

Upon retiring from academic life, he joined Union Carbide in Oak Ridge as consultant for research in experimental radiation chemistry of gases, performing most of his work at Oak Ridge National Laboratory and serving as acting director of its Chemistry Division from 1951 to 1954. He edited the Journal of Physical Chemistry, published classic studies of radiation chemistry, and earned many honors. During the 1950s, he was the sole member of the National Academy of Sciences living in Tennessee. Although he was physically contaminated by radium, it had no apparent effects on his health. An avid fisherman, he lost his life in 1965 at age eighty-six while fishing in the fast waters of the Clinch River at Oak Ridge.

Suggested Reading

“The Memoirs of Samuel Colville Lind,” Journal of the Tennessee Academy of Science 47 (January 1972): 1-40; Ellison H. Taylor, “Samuel Colville Lind,” Journal of Physical Chemistry 63 (1959): 773-76

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  • Article Title Samuel Colville Lind
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  • Website Name Tennessee Encyclopedia
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  • Access Date June 15, 2024
  • Publisher Tennessee Historical Society
  • Original Published Date
  • Date of Last Update March 1, 2018