After obtaining an MA in English and a PhD in chemistry at the University of Toronto (1942), he was a research fellow at Harvard and the National Research Council; professor at the University of Rochester (1946) and the Illinois Institute of Technology (1948); professor and head of chemistry at the University of Alberta (1957), president there 1974-79 and professor emeritus (1981). He made major contributions to science, publishing 175 research articles on photochemistry, free radical reactions, chemical kinetics and mechanisms of energy transfer. He pioneered research on the chemistry of sulphur atoms and was among the first to investigate photochemical methods for separating isotopes.
Having served as council member of the NRC, president of the Chemical Institute of Canada and board member of the Alberta Oil Sands Technology and Research Authority, he introduced many innovations in science policy and administration, and promoted the interaction of academia with industry and government. He played an important role in promoting research and development for the exploitation of the vast oil-sand resources of Alberta; in high technology, establishing Chembiomed Ltd; and in bringing into existence the Edmonton Research and Development Park.