The Rolf Buchdahl Symposium on Science, Technology, and Values

About the Buchdahl Lecture

The roots of the STS Program extend back to the Department of Social Studies in the School of Engineering, which in 1970 became the Division of University Studies in the Provost's Office. Among many distinguished faculty in the Division, Rolf Buchdahl, a retired industry researcher, was a visiting scholar. The Buchdahl Lecture, inaugurated in 1981, was endowed by a gift from his family following Dr. Buchdahl's death in 1980.

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About Dr. Buchdahl

Rolf Buchdahl was born on November 2, 1914 in Frankfurt, Germany. The majority of his early schooling was in Frankfurt, and he began his college studies in Zurich and attended the Sorbonne in Paris, France.

In 1936, Dr. Buchdahl left Germany to attend Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland, where he received his PhD in Physics in 1940. He married Rosa Himelfarb in 1940, and they moved to New York City where he was employed by Sun Chemical.  Dr. Buchdahl became a U.S. citizen in June 1943.

In 1946, Dr. Buchdahl and his family moved to Longmeadow, Massachusetts, where he accepted a position with Monsanto Chemical Company in the Research Division. He remained with Monsanto until 1960, when he accepted a position with Chemstrand Corporation and the family moved to Raleigh, NC. Shortly after this move, Monsanto acquired Chemstrand, and in 1967 Dr. Buchdahl and his wife moved to St. Louis, Missouri. He retired from Monsanto in 1978 as their Director of Basic Research.

In 1978, Dr. Buchdahl returned to Raleigh to retire and to teach a course NC State University in his retirement. For this effort he wanted to pursue the relationships between science, technology, and religion. He was able to spend only a small amount of time on this endeavor before he died suddenly in November of 1980.

In 1981 Dr. Buchdahl’s wife and family established an endowment that would bring speakers to the NC State campus to present lectures in the areas in which he was so interested.