Polymer Chemist

Louis C. "Bud" Rubens

What strikes you first about 82-year-old Bud Rubens is that despite all his honors, titles, and lifetime achievements, he remains—unbelievably—an extremely modest man. "I was just very fortunate in where I ended up," he says. "When I came to Dow, not long after the Great Depression, it probably had the best industrial research lab in the world."

Bud is in the Plastics Hall of Fame and holds 58 patents, the Herbert H. Dow Gold Medal for fundamental research, the German Fachverband Schaumkunstoffe Medal for pioneering research in foam plastics, the ACS Heroes of Chemistry recognition, and the Fire of Genius Award for lifetime patent accomplishments.

How did he achieve all this with just a two-year associate’s degree? "The staff of the Dow physics lab were my surrogate professors," he credits modestly. "They were real pioneers in polymer science...and very willing to help a neophyte." Bud’s breakthrough work pioneered the study of organic blowing agents for polymeric foams. The basic science he developed has been applied to almost all foam products made today—more than 5 billion pounds of foam products per year.

"I officially retired in 1986," he chuckles, "but I’ve been a Dow consultant ever since." With his every word, his genuine love of chemistry is as obvious as his love for his company, which he has served for 62 years. "This has been real fun for me," he says. "I’ve had a wonderful life.”

Says the Father of Polymeric Foams: "I’m just another scientist."