Frank Warren 1972


Frank Louis Warren, born in 1905, was educated at Colfe's Grammar School and entered the Royal College of Science (Imperial College) London as an entrance scholar. He gained A.R.C.S. in 1927. Several years after gaining the A.R.C.S. diploma there, he was awarded the Ph.D. (London) degree for his research in organic chemistry under Dr E. H. Farmer, F.R.S.

After teaching at the Royal College of Science and at Birkbeck College he was appointed Senior Lecturer in Chemistry at Fuad I University, Cairo, where he served under Professor A. Schonburg. He was appointed Professor of Chemistry at the Natal University College, Pietermaritzburg, in 1940.

During the war he led the investigations on the extraction of rubber from South African Euphorbia species, and later studies of the resins led to a number of papers on the chemistry of triterpenes. With the experience gained in applied research during the war, he started the Chemistry and Chemical Engineering Department at the University of Natal in Durban. In this department the first Professorship of Chemical Engineering in South Africa was created. In 1966 Professor Warren was appointed Dean of the Faculty of Science in the University of Cape Town.

He started active research in organic chemistry in South Africa in the alkaloids of the Senecio species. His laboratory advanced the general structure of the C(10)-acids, the absolute configuration of the bases, and discovered the N-oxide nature of the alkaloids, which permitted improved yields from extraction amounting to twenty times previous values. The importance of these contributions was recognised by his publications on The Pyrrolizidine Alkaloids at the invitation of Springer Verlag, Vienna in 1955, and again in 1967. He also published a number of papers on the alkaloids of the Amaryllidaceae and Strychnos species and more recently on some novel sulphur containing alkaloids from the Rhizophoraceae.

The researches on South African toxic and medicinal plants were recognised by the CSIR in the creation of a Natural Products Research Unit under his direction in 1960. From this date he also carried out research on insect sex attractants and isolated, characterised, and developed a possible industrial synthesis for the pheromone from the False Codling moth. He has long been associated with CSIR and has served on its Council. He was a member of the Research Advisory Committee of the Atomic Energy Board, and a member of the Prime Minister's Scientific Advisory Committee at its inception just over four years ago.

Professor Warren's researches have become widely known, and many of this country's able young chemists have been trained by him. His research was recognised by the University of London which conferred the degree of D.Sc. on him in 1951, and by the South African Association for the Advancement of Science, which awarded him its Gold Medal in 1955.

Most of his researches are published in the Journal of the Chemical Society, London, but a number have appeared in the Journal of the South African Chemical Institute. He was a member of the Council of the Institute for three years and was its president in 1960.

Professor Warren's services to chemistry in South Africa were recognised by the South African Chemical Institute which led to his being the first recipient of its Gold Medal in 1967.

The Council and Senate of the University of Port Elizabeth regard it as a privilege to honour Professor Warren in this way.