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Herbert S. Isbin papers

Identifier: ua01246

Content Description

Collection contains the papers of Herbert S. Isbin, professor emeritus of chemical engineering at the University of Minnesota, known for his pioneering and internationally renowned work on nuclear energy and safety.


  • Creation: 1940-2000

Language of Materials

Collection is in English


Researchers may quote from the collection under the fair use provision of the copyright law Title 17, U.S. Code. Request to publish should be arranged with the University of Minnesota Archives.

Conditions Governing Use

Items in this collection do not circulate and may be used in-house only.

Biographical Sketch

Herbert S. Isbin, B.S. (1940) and M.S. (1941), University of Washington; graduate studies (1941-1943), University of Minnesota; D.Sc. (1947), Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Thesis: Heterogeneous Catalytic Decomposition of High Strength Hydrogen Peroxide Solutions.

Assistant Professor, (1950); Associate Professor, (1954); Professor, (1958); Emeritus Professor (1983), Department of Chemical Engineering, University of Minnesota.

Herbert Isbin was born December 8, 1919 in Seattle, Washington. After completing an M.S. at the University of Washington and additional graduate coursework at the University of Minnesota, Isbin joined the OSS Research Laboratory in Maryland (1943-1945). After World War II, Isbin completed his D.Sc. in 1947 at MIT. From 1947 to 1950 he worked at General Electric Hanford Works in Richland, Washington where he initiated the first full scale simulation of a nuclear fuel assembly.

Isbin joined the faculty at the University of Minnesota in 1950 as an assistant professor in chemical engineering and remained through the rank of full professor. His research focus was on nuclear energy safety and steam water flows and included a quarter leave at the Argonne National Laboratory. In 1957, Isbin was appointed director of the University’s newly opened Gamma Irradiation Facility, described as a facility to provide “tools to explore the peaceful uses of atomic energy.” His teaching and research resulted in the publication of the textbook Introductory Nuclear Reactor Theory (Reinhold Publishers) in 1963.

His expertise and professional experiences resulted in Isbin’s appointment or consulting to numerous agencies including the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission (USAEC) as part of the Advisory Committee for Reactor Safeguards (1967-1978), Advisory Committee for the Institute of Nuclear Power (1989-1991), and the Nuclear Safety Research Review Committee for the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (1989-1995).

As many other American scientists of his generation, Isbin recognized the importance of bridging the gap of the Cold War through supporting international academic associations and establishing contacts with the Soviet scientific community. He was involved in the international scientific forum for nuclear energy and in the activities of the European Atomic Energy Community (EURATOM). Isbin was also an active participant of the US-USSR scientific exchanges in the 1960s. His Soviet counterpart was Viktor Ivanovich Spitsyn, the director of the Institute of Physical Chemistry in Moscow. They exchanged visits, including Isbin’s trip to the Soviet Union as a guest of the Academy of Sciences USSR in 1966, and corresponded until Spitsyn’s death in 1988.

In 2003, the University of Minnesota established the Herbert S. Isbin Fellowship to support graduate students in the department of Chemical Engineering and Material Science. Herbert Isbin passed away May 12th, 2018 in St. Louis Park, Minnesota.


2.5 cf Cubic Feet (4 boxes)


Collection contains the papers of Herbert S. Isbin, professor emeritus of chemical engineering at the University of Minnesota.

Source of Acquisition

The collection was donated to the Archives by the Isbin family in 2016.

Related Materials

Midwestern Universities Research Association records, University of Minnesota Archives.

Argonne Universities Association Collection, University of Minnesota Archives.

Herbert S. Isbin papers
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English

Collecting Area Details

Contact The University Archives Collecting Area