Southern Research: 75 years of innovation, research and hope

Southern Research: 75 years of innovation, research and hope
The Alabama Power Archives exhibit recognizes the founding of Southern Research, which has been a part of this community for 75 years. (Photo courtesy of Southern Research)
Southern Research celebrates 75 years in the Birmingham community. (file)
Southern Research celebrates 75 years in the Birmingham community. (file)

October will mark 75 years that Birmingham has been home to Southern Research, a world-renowned scientific research organization. Beginning Sept. 27, the Alabama Power Company Archives Museum will recognize the founding of the organization in the exhibition “Southern Research: Celebrating 75 years of serving Birmingham and the world in scientific and engineering innovation.”

In the early 20th century, Alabama, like the other Southern states, was viewed as a significant economic problem for the rest of the country. Alabama was primarily a rural state, with little industry and limited opportunity for employment.

In 1930, Stewart Lloyd, the dean of Chemistry, Metallurgy and Ceramics at the University of Alabama, completed a survey of the chemical and mineral wealth of the Birmingham area. At the conclusion of his report, Lloyd recommended that local businessmen establish a research organization focused on developing the vast resources available throughout the South.

The organization would spur employment and commerce.

Tom Martin, Alabama Power president, 1940 (file)

It took 10 years before the recommendation was acted upon, but in 1940, Alabama Power President Tom Martin took the charge. According to Art Tipton, current president and CEO of Southern Research, “Martin realized that for additional industries to come to the state of Alabama, many of them would need a science and engineering partner. And he founded Southern Research to be that partner.”

Today, Southern Research is one of the world’s leading nonprofit research organizations, operating with four divisions: Engineering, Energy and Environment, Drug Discovery, and Drug Development. The Engineering, and Energy and Environment divisions are researching ways to help keep the U.S. military safe, make the Earth’s air and water cleaner, and safely launch a manned mission to Mars. The life sciences divisions are investigating medicines to combat cancer, ALS, Alzheimer’s, diabetes, kidney disease, Parkinson’s, and a number of infectious diseases.

“Within these past 75 years, Southern Research has continually achieved what it was established to do: combine science with industry to serve the research needs of the Southeast and the nation,” said Rossi Carlson, advanced marketing specialist, Southern Research. “Our scientists, engineers and technicians have made and continue to make significant strides in matters that impact every human being – from cancer and infectious disease treatments, to renewable and environmentally responsible resources, to defense and aerospace technologies. We are honored and delighted to be able to share our rich history with the community that we support.”

The Alabama Power exhibition celebrates 75 years of innovation, research and hope founded and operating in Birmingham. The public is invited to the exhibition opening on Sept. 27 from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. The Archives Museum is located in Alabama Power’s historic 1925 building, which is part of the company’s Corporate Headquarters, 600 North 18th St., in downtown Birmingham. The exhibition will continue during regular museum hours, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday. For more information, call 205-257-4155.

Related Stories