Thomas J. Leck can be described as a scientist and inventor who loves to travel and explore. During his long career at DuPont, he worked on polymers, gases and liquids and earned the 47 patents with more patents still pending. In recent years, Leck has enjoyed the opportunity to travel around the world and speak at academic, industrial and governmental conferences about refrigeration, air conditioning and global climate change.
Much of his scientific work involved the chemistry of the element Fluorine and using fluorine chemistry to develop products that will significantly reduce the impact of cooling on net carbon emissions, thereby reducing the potential for climate change.
Leck grew up on a farm near Calumet and attended Calumet Public Schools, before going to SWOSU, where he graduated in 1974. He majored in chemistry and minored in physics and mathematics. He went to the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana and did research work at the University of Colorado, in support of his doctoral dissertation on atmospheric chemistry. His thesis work was on the depletion of stratospheric ozone by breakdown products of refrigerant gas and similar halogenated compounds.
His interest and publications on environmental chemistry and refrigerants led to employment performing chemical research for DuPont. He worked in research laboratories and manufacturing support at locations for DuPont in West Virginia, Texas and Delaware. Prior to retirement in 2015, he was the global market development leader for air conditioning refrigerants. In this capacity he traveled around the world to work with manufacturers, academic groups and policy makers in places including China, Japan, Korea, France, Germany, Sweden, Qatar and the United States.
Leck was inducted into the SWOSU Distinguished Alumni Hall of Fame in 2016