Allan Laslett Smith

Allan Laslett Smith

From local paper

Allan Laslett Smith of Chatham passed away on December 9. Smith was a retired Professor Emeritus of Chemistry at Drexel University in Philadelphia. He graduated magna cum laude from Harvard University in 1960 and received a Ph. D in Physical Chemistry from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1965.

Through the years he received numerous awards and held a number of offices in the fields of chemical education and calorimetry. His recent interests included research in quartz microbalance calorimetry and its application in thin films, for which he holds 4 patents, and led him to found Masscal Scientific Instruments, now headquartered in Florida.

Allan loved to teach and instill the joy of learning in his students. Among other distinguished awards he received the Lindback Foundation Award for Teaching at Drexel University.

He loved to sing and was a member of Singing City Choir in Philadelphia, The Chatham Chorale and Chatham Chamber Singers on Cape Cod. He enjoyed swimming, fishing and boating as often as possible. He was a life-long Christian Scientist.

Professor Smith leaves his wife of 48 years, Charity Smith of Chatham, as well as a son, Fletcher and his wife Erika of Rochester MN, a granddaughter Sierra, and a daughter, Nadja Gale of Minneapolis MN. He is also survived by his mother Dorothy Smith in North Carolina, his sister Sandra Melton also in North Carolina, and sister Dorrritt Vidosic in California. A celebration of his life will be held at a later date.

Memorial donations may be made to the Chatham Chorale, P.O. Box 1111, West Dennis, MA 02670.

by Professor Addison at Drexel University

Allan Laslett Smith, Professor Emeritus of Chemistry at Drexel University, passed away on Dec. 9th, 2008, aged 70.

Allan was born in Newark, New Jersey. He earned his B.A. from Harvard University (Chemistry & Physics) and his Ph.D. in Physical Chemistry from M.I.T. His professional experience included a postdoctoral fellowship at the NBS (now NIST), followed by a faculty position at Yale from 1966 to 1975. He joined Drexel as an Associate Professor in 1975, advanced to full Professor in 1984, and retired in 2003. In his early years, he won Sloan Foundation and NATO Fellowships, studying at Oxford University under the latter in 1971.

Allan was professionally active in the American Chemical Society, and more recently with the Executive Board of the Calorimetry Conference.

A C. & M. Lindback Foundation Distinguished Teaching Awardee in 1985, he was an early proponent of the use of desktop computers in science education, serving as Chair of the ACS Division of Computers in Chemistry in 1987, Program Chair of the Division of Chemical Education in 1992 and as a member of the Journal of Chemical Education's board. At Drexel, he was a principal member of the University's Microcomputer Committee in the early 1980's, which led to Drexel being the first University in the U.S. to require that its freshmen have a personal computer for their studies. Allan partnered with an Engineering colleague in the 1980's to obtain NSF funding for a new approach to the teaching of Chemistry to Engineering freshman, and thus was born Drexel's nationally-recognized "E4" program. Also memorably to many of his contemporaries at Drexel, when Apple's CEO introduced the first Macintosh computer exactly a quarter of a century ago in Cupertino, it was Allan who got to simultaneously unveil it on the right coast.

In over sixty full papers, Allan's research during his more than forty years of irrepressible curiosity successfully spanned the topics of sophisticated small molecule spectroscopy, sulfur allotropes, oscillating reactions and fullerenes. It was the study of the thermodynamic properties of the last that led him to development of the quartz microbalance microcalorimeter. He was thus involved with the 1990's renaissance of calorimetry research, being the holder of patents in this area, and the founder of Masscal Scientific Instruments, the manufacturer of combined microcalorimetry and nanobalance devices.