Cook, William Harrison

 William Harrison Cook, chemist (b at Alnwick, Eng 2 Sept 1903; d at Ottawa 19 May 1998). Living on an Alberta homestead from age 8, Cook began his formal education at agricultural school at 17 - which led to the University of Alberta and Stanford (PhD 1931). From 1924 he assisted Robert NEWTON's research on drying damp wheat, joined the NATIONAL RESEARCH COUNCIL staff under Newton in 1932 and succeeded him as director of biology in 1941.

A natural engineer, Cook worked as a young scientist on constant-condition chambers (ie, refrigerated greenhouses to simulate prairie farming conditions). This led to unusual war work such as the overnight conversion of freighters into refrigerated food ships. After 1945 he reorganized the NRC's food research laboratories and personally solved the structure of polysaccharide proteins in carrageenan, a seaweed used by the food industry. After nominal retirement in 1968 he continued to work as executive director of the NRC until 1974 and director general of Canadian participation in the International Biological Program until 1976. In 1986 he was a titular member of the IUPAC Commission on Electrochemistry. He wrote 2 books, My Fifty Years with NRC, 1924-1974 and a memoir of his cowboy youth. Recognition for his work included an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from the University of Saskatchewan (1948) and appointment as an Officer of the Order of the British Empire. Cook was invested as an Officer of the Order of Canada in 1969.