Alumnus forges a career through chemistry and art
Langley Spurlock’s love of chemistry has taken him many places: industry, academia, government and, perhaps most importantly, his own art studio. Spurlock earned his Ph.D. in organic chemistry at Wayne State University with Professor Norman LeBel in 1963. After graduation, he worked in industry until his agricultural research division closed unexpectedly. He took this as an opportunity to pursue a career in academia, joining the chemistry faculty at Temple University and later at Brown University.
From Brown, Spurlock was called to Washington, D.C., where he took a policy position with the American Council on Education. This new career focus took Spurlock to the National Science Foundation, where he was in charge of evaluating the peer review system. Eventually, Spurlock moved to the Chemical Manufacturers Association and, after 12 years, retired as a vice president.
It was in retirement that Spurlock fully embraced his lifelong love of art. After attending the Corcoran College of Art and Design, he decided to marry his art with his training in chemistry. Through a partnership with retired advertising copywriter and poet John Martin Tarrat, Spurlock embarked on a 15-year project to describe each of the 118 elements of the periodic table using art and verse.
Spurlock’s work has been exhibited at the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Center for Physics, the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., the Bass Museum of Art in Miami Beach, the Provincetown Museum in Massachusetts, and his home base, Studio Gallery in Washington, D.C. Spurlock’s story is evidence of the varied and interesting career options afforded by a degree in chemistry.