Milton J. Rosen, one of the great pioneers of surfactant research and an AOCS Fellow, passed away on February 2, 2020, nine days shy of his 100th birthday.
In his 70 years as an active researcher, Rosen obtained more than 150 publications or patents. In 1985, he founded the Surfactant Research Institute at Brooklyn College, from which he retired in 2011 at the of 91. Rosen was also a longstanding member of the advisory board for the Journal of Surfactants and Detergents (JSD).
In 1991, he established the AOCS Samuel J. Rosen Award, in honor of his father. 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.
Born in 1920 in Brooklyn, New York, Rosen received his master’s degree from the University of Maryland in 1941. With the outbreak of World War II, Rosen served his country in the Pacific Theater as a member of the US Army. After discharge, Rosen accepted a teaching position at Brooklyn College. In 1949, he earned a Ph.D. in organic chemistry from the Polytechnic Institute of Brooklyn.
In his lab at Brooklyn College, Rosen became a pioneer in the field of surfactant research. Among his greatest scientific contributions were a series of studies investigating the structure-property relationships of surfactants; derivations of equations for surfactant synergism; and some of the earliest studies of gemini surfactants. In 1979, Rosen published the first edition of his groundbreaking and authoritative work, Surfactants and Interfacial Phenomena.
“Everybody in the industry’s got a copy of his book, Surfactants and Interfacial Phenomena,” said Dennis Murphy, research fellow at Stepan Company. Murphy was a Ph.D. student in Rosen’s lab from 1985 to 1989.
“It’s in its fourth edition now, and it’s kind of like the go-to book for surfactants.”
Recalling his time in Rosen’s lab, Murphy described Rosen as a “caring, very enthusiastic scientist with a great sense of humor.”
Revisit “A Conversation with Milton J. Rosen” to learn more about the life of this great scientist and AOCS member.