In Memory


Ken Hancock

Kenneth George Hancock – in memory

From Country Day, Ken went to Harvard where besides graduating in three years with a degree in chemistry, he met Diane Kerr of Kansas City at Radcliffe in one of his labs…and married her.  (Phil Hauck was the best man at their wedding, as Ken was in Phil’s a few years later.)

From Cambridge, they moved to Madison, Wisconsin, where besides learning snow skiing, Ken got his Ph.D.  Next stop, for 11 years:  The University of California at Davis, where he was assistant and later associate professor.  During this time, he began volunteering his time with the National science Foundation’s Chemistry division in reviewing grant applications….eventually accepting temporary one-year stints at NSF headquarters in Washington, D.C.

At the end of one of those stints, he stayed…becoming program director and then acting and deputy director, and in 1990, director of the Chemistry Division.  He annually oversaw more than $100 million in research grants.  As Director, one of his perks was the opportunity to direct several million dollars of grants to a field of his choosing…and he chose the emerging field of “green chemistry,” which as we know today dominates everyone’s thinking

His obituary quoted an associate, “Ken led scientific delegations that brought United states chemists together with colleagues in Central and Eastern Europe and Russia.”

On Friday, September 10, 1993, after completing a week in Budapest representing the U.S. at an environmental science conference, he failed to awaken in the hotel for his trip home, and was diagnosed as having suffered a heart attack.

Diane continues today her work with the National Institute of Standards and Technology, responsible for calibration standards.  Their two boys are in highly technical computer fields, and their daughter is an attorney with the U.S. Department of Justice.

Ken’s legacy lives on:  In the 1990’s, “colleagues from academia, government and industry came together to award an annual Kenneth G. Hancock Memorial Award in green chemistry under the auspices of the American Chemical Society.”  Today, two awards are made annually (one to an undergraduate and one to a graduate student) based on outstanding student contributions to furthering the goals of green chemistry.  (To access information about the Award, simply “google” Ken’s name.)

Respectfully submitted (I encourage other classmates to add on comments and memories),

Phil Hauck, September 23, 2009



Click here to see Ken's last Profile entry.