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Professor Herbert M. ClarkAugust 20, 2009
Troy - Herbert Mottram Clark, 90, Professor Emeritus of Chemistry at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, died on August 20, 2009. Born in Derby, Connecticut, he grew up in neighboring Shelton, where his parents, Herbert Clark and Annie Elizabeth Mottram, settled after moving from Sheffield , England. He graduated from Shelton High School as salutatorian of the class of 1936 and then attended Yale University, where he received his B.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Chemistry.
During World War II, he worked on the Manhattan Project. After joining the RPI faculty, he attended a Special Training School in Nuclear Technology, also known as the "Clinch College of Nuclear Knowledge" at the Clinton Laboratories in Oak Ridge, Tennessee (now the Oak Ridge National Laboratory). The school was represented the beginning of a shift from military to peacetime applications of nuclear energy. At the school, Professor Clark did research and originated the method of neutron activation analysis using the X-10 nuclear reactor. While at the school, he studied the theory of nuclear reactors and learned radiochemical techniques, safety procedures and instrumentation for working with radioactive material and other sources of ionizing radiation developed on the Manhattan Project.
During the thirty-eight years he was on the RPI faculty he taught courses in analytical, environmental, general, nuclear, physical, radiation, and radio- chemistry. Other courses included chemical thermodynamics, and nuclear reactor theory. He also taught courses at colleges and industrial laboratories on the techniques of using radioactive isotopes in teaching and research using a mobile laboratory provided by the U.S Atomic Energy Commission. Using the same laboratory, he taught a course at The Seoul National University in South Korea during the violent overthrow of the government of President Syngman Rhee in April 1960. He coauthored three textbooks, contributed chapters to reference books and published several papers in scientific journals. One of the papers described a very unusual event in which significant amounts of radioactive fission products from nuclear weapons test SIMON in Nevada were deposited in the Troy area in April, 1953. His areas of research included the absorption of nuclear fission products by hydrous oxides, the extraction of inorganic substances by organic solvents, and the chemistry of technetium, the radioactive element that is used in the preparation of many of the radiopharmaceuticals used in nuclear medicine.
During the 1950s he was Radiological Chief for Rensselaer County Civil Defense. In 1978-79, while on leave from RPI, he was a member of the staff of AFCEP ( Alternative Fuel Cycle Evaluation Program) at the Germantown, Maryland Headquarters of the U.S. Energy Research and Development Administration (ERDA) , now the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). The program involved a study of the nuclear proliferation resistance of the methods of processing spent fuel from nuclear power reactors and was in support of INFCE, The International Fuel Cycle Evaluation.
He was a member of Phi Beta Kappa, Sigma Xi, The American Chemical Society, The American Physical Society, The American Nuclear Society, The American Society for Engineering Education and, for several years, The Society of Nuclear Medicine. He was a Fellow of The New York Academy of Sciences and The American Association for the Advancement of Science. During a period of forty five years, he was a member of St. Paul's Episcopal Church at State and Third Streets in Troy, where he served as a warden and several times as a member of the Vestry. He was also a member of The Church of the Good Shepherd on Coram Avenue in Shelton.
The Burial Office will be read Tuesday at 10:00 AM at the St. Paul's Episcopal Church State and Third Streets Troy with Rev. Michael Gorchov , Rector.
Relatives and friends may call at the Bryce Funeral Home, Inc. 276 Pawling Avenue Troy on Monday, from 5-7 PM.
Interment will be in the Riverside Cemetery in Shelton, CT.
In lieu of flowers contributions may be made to St. Paul's Episcopal Church at State and Third Streets in Troy, NY 12180.