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Alumni Feature: Goodyear Scientist/Executive John Lawrence


Writer(s): Steve Scherer


Chemistry alumnus John Lawrence (Ph.D., 1970) spent his entire 33-year career in R&D at The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company, before retiring in 2003 as vice president of corporate research.

A native of Tacoma, Wash., he came to Purdue in 1965 to earn a Ph.D. in organic chemistry under the direction of Professor Henry Feuer.

“My research at Purdue involved two of his principal areas of interest: heterocyclic compounds and nitration of active methylene compounds,” Lawrence explained.

After Purdue, Lawrence began as a senior research chemist at Goodyear in Akron, Ohio, assigned to development of chemicals used in vulcanization of rubber. A few years later he moved to polymer R&D.

As his career at the company progressed, he held positions as project manager and as R&D manager in Akron and overseas at Goodyear's International Technical Center in Colmar Berg, Luxembourg.

“As a project manager I coordinated the development of Goodyear’s first run-flat tire, and later I was involved with the development and commercialization of high tensile/high fatigue steelcord reinforcement for commercial tires,” he added.

He completed his Goodyear career as director for two R&D divisions and later as vice president of corporate research responsible for the company's research efforts in the fields of materials science and engineering, physics, mechanics, advanced manufacturing and the technical IT division.

During retirement, he worked for a small R&D startup for three years to assist in getting the company up and running. And, he served a term on Purdue’s College of Science Advisory Council.

“Now I am fully retired and split my time between the Akron area and Carlsbad, Calif. My wife and I like to travel and spend time with our children and grandchildren living in Ohio,” Lawrence said.

His best memories of Purdue include getting his work published in ACS journals and receiving his first patent.

“I loved Big Ten sports and fondly remember the Bob Griese and Rick Mount years – attending all of the home football and basketball games,” he added.