Peter Townsend Austen
(10-9-1852 to 30-12-1907)
Chemist, was born at Clifton, Staten Island, New York, USA, the son of auctioneer John H Austen and Elizabeth Townsend. Her father was Peter Townsend of Sterling Iron Works who had introduced from Germany a new process for the manufacture of steel. After attending a local school and the Columbia School of Mines, he went to Europe to study, receiving his Ph.D. from the University of Zurich in 1876. On his return he became instructor in chemistry at Dartmouth and two years later he went to Rutgers as full professor of general and applied chemistry, This appointment lasted 30 years during which time he also served on the faculty of the New Jersey Science School, was State chemist, and an adviser to state and municipal boards. After a period of private practice, he resumed college work at the Brooklyn Polytechnic Institute before retiring from educational work entirely and establishing a consulting office and laboratory in New York City.
He published a number of text books, including a translation of Adolph Pinner's Introduction to the Study of Organic Chemistry. He was author of many papers
which appeared in the American Chemical Journal and in the Proceedings of the Chemical Society of Berlin. he gave lectures on Science Teaching in the
Schools, Scientific Speculations, and The Chemical Factor in History. His Harnessing the Sun appeared in the North American Review, June 1895. He was
married in 1878 to Ellen M Monroe, a descendant of Peter Townsend of Sterling Iron Works.
His niece was Alice Austen, photographer.