William J. Sparks

Award Winner

1905 – 1976


Who was William J. Sparks?

William Joseph Sparks was a chemist at Exxon. As an inventor, his most important contribution was the development of butyl rubber.

Sparks served as president of the American Chemical Society in 1966 and chairman of the National Research Council's Division of Chemistry and Technology from July 1953 to June 1955. Sparks was the holder of 145 patents. Sparks was awarded the Priestley Medal in 1965 and the Charles Goodyear Medal in 1966 for the functionality of elastomers. The ACS Rubber Division's Sparks-Thomas award is named after Sparks and Butyl rubber co-inventor Robert M. Thomas.

Sparks was a firm believer in the benefits that innovation could provide to society. However, he was concerned that the education of the upcoming scientific generation did not include the awakening of the social consciousness. He stated that "the scientific profession has become much larger than medicine, law or the clergy. Yet, many young scientists are not taught by their professors to feel an obligation to society in their work." Sparks believed that good science should benefit the world in which we live, contending that "Science without purpose is an art without responsibility."

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Feb 26, 1905
Also known as
  • William Sparks
Oct 23, 1976

on July 23, 2013


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