The Samuel Rosen Award
At the 1991 AOCS Annual Meeting, Milton J. Rosen
announced the establishment of the Samuel Rosen
Memorial Award, in honor of his father. Born in Poland
in 1889, Samuel Rosen came to the United States at
the age of two. His parents divorced, and his father,
who had taken the two boys of the family, remarried.
Unfortunately, he neglected to tell the woman he married that he had two sons until after the wedding, and
she had little interest in raising two boys. Soon Samuel
and his older brother found themselves out on the
streets of New York City, forced to fend for themselves,
when Samuel was only 7 years old. Samuel sold newspapers for a profit of 15–20 cents per day, and slept in
a Newsboys’ Lodging House that charged 5 cents per
night (with a free breakfast, as long as he made his bed).
Whenever he could save enough money to take a few
days off from work, Samuel would attend school.
When he was older, Samuel obtained a job at a
printing press, where he learned about the various inks
used to print books and newspapers. Largely self-educated, Samuel Rosen then acquired a job as an industrial
chemist, formulating printing inks for the J.M. Huber Co.
After 40 years with this company, he joined the printing inks technical service division of Interchemical Corp.
Retiring in his 70s, Samuel Rosen lived until the age of
97, passing away shortly after the death of his wife of 72
The Samuel Rosen Memorial Award was established in memory of his dedication to and enthusiasm
for applied chemistry. The award recognizes significant
accomplishments in applications of the principles of
surfactant chemistry, by scientists who have spent the
majority of their careers in industry.
is one of my favorites because it introduced the world to a
new type of surfactant, geminis, which are doing quite well, I
Q:When did you retire from Brooklyn College? I retired in 2011, just five years ago. The story behind
that is, at Brooklyn College, like many institutions, you have to
retire when you are 65. For me, that would have been in 1985.
So a few years before that, I established a surfactant research
institute. I was getting enough grants that I was self-supporting in my research, and I was able to then establish an official research institute of the City University of New York at
Brooklyn College. As director of that, I didn’t have to retire. So I
retired in 2011 instead of 1985. I really loved what I was doing.
I enjoyed every minute of my time doing research.
Q:What do you see as the future of the surfactants field? I think what’s important is, first of all, that surfactants
must be based on renewable resources, not petroleum or
other things like that. They have to be based on renewable
resources, which would be essentially fats and proteins, which
I used and which can be used in surfactants. They must have
practically no, or no significant, effect on the environment—
environmentally favorable. And they must be mild or have no
effect on skin surfaces. That’s where the areas of research are
and should be because people are really quite environmentally
intelligent and concerned.
Q:There’s going to be a session at the 2017 AOCS Annual Meeting that is in honor of you and your research. How
do you feel about that?
I’m excited. I won’t come because I hate to travel by plane.
I’m 96 now, almost 97. My wife is very excited, also. She said,
“Are you going?”, and I said, “No, unfortunately, I’m not going
to go.” But really I’m very honored. It’s a real surprise, and I’m
Olio is produced by Inform’s associate editor, Laura Cassiday. She
can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.