Two U of I alumni, including an LAS alumna, will be inducted this year into The National Inventors Hall of Fame in Washington, D.C.
The late Allene Rosalind Jeanes (PhD, ’38, chemistry) will be inducted posthumously into the National Inventors Hall of Fame in May for, in part, creating a blood plasma extender used by medics in the Korean and Vietnam wars. The late Harold Froehlich (MS, ’51 aeronautical engineering) will also be inducted for his role in creating a unique deep-sea submarine.
This will be the 45th induction ceremony for the National Inventors Hall of Fame. Fifteen inventors will be inducted this year.
Born in 1906 in Waco, Texas, Jeanes was a chemistry Instructor as U of I from 1936 to 1937 before receiving her PhD in organic chemistry in 1938. From 1941-76, Jeanes worked as a chemical researcher at the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Northern Regional Research Lab (NRRL) in Peoria, Illinois, now known as the National Center for Agricultural Utilization Research.
According to the National Inventors Hall of Fame, “As a result of her research and innovation, the NRRL became a leader in carbohydrate research.” Jeanes’ research focus was natural polysaccharides, such as cellulose, starch and dextran. Jeanes was able to use bacteria-contaminated root beer to revolutionarily isolate dextrose-producing bacteria.
Because of this discovery, dextran was able to be mass-produced, and then used in a dextran-based blood plasma extender, used by medics in the Korean and Vietnam wars. This work made Jeanes the first woman to receive the Distinguished Service Award by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Jeanes was also on the research team that developed xanthan gum, another polysaccharide, commonly used as a food thickening agent.
Jeanes had no shortage of notable awards for her research. In 1956, she received the Garvan Medal from the American Chemical Society for her work in dextran production. In 1962, the U.S. Civil Service Commission gave Jeanes the Federal Woman’s Service Award. In 1968, the Superior Service Award from the United States Department of Agriculture was awarded to Jeanes and the entire Xanthan gum team, and in 1999, she was posthumously inducted into the ARS Science Hall of Fame.
Jeanes passed away in 1995 in Urbana, Illinois.
Harold “Bud” Froehlich’s most notable invention—and his cause for induction—was his time as the chief engineer for the design and building of the submersible research submarine Alvin, a revolutionary machine that has performed many missions, from recovering hydrogen bombs to exploring the Titanic. It has been modified over the years, and it recently was used to bring a group of U of I researchers to unexplored parts of the ocean.
Owned by the U.S. Navy and operated by the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Alvin is still in use today as the longest operating deep-sea submersible. Froehlich, who held 17 patents in his lifetime, passed away in 2007.
The ceremony for the Illini honorees will be held held Thursday, May 4 at the National Building Museum in Washington, D.C.