joined the faculty of the University of Illinois in 1940, the same year
he received his doctorate from the University of Minnesota where he studied
under I. M. Kolthoff. For several years, Laitinen taught inorganic and
general chemistry; in 1947 he began teaching analytical chemistry. He
became head of the analytical chemistry division in 1953.
Laitinen influenced the intellectual content of the analytical chemistry
curriculum both at Illinois during his thirty-seven years on the faculty
and nationally. In the process, he helped define the discipline as it
moved from the analysis of various materials to the principles and methods
of electrochemistry, spectroscopy, separations, and instrumentation. In
1960 Laitinen published a classic text in the field, Chemical Analysis,
which made graduate instruction rigorous and more complete. His contributions
were recognized in 1961 when the American Chemical Society granted him
its Award in Analytical Chemistry. In 1986 the ACS noted his devotion
to teaching with its Division of Analytical Chemistry Excellence in Teaching
Laitinen made Analytical Chemistry the leading scientific journal in the
field while serving as its editor from 1966 to 1979. He published 168
editorials while editor of Analytical Chemistry.
Laitinen had varied research interests. He was a leader in synthetic rubber
research during the Second World War. He also conducted research in electrochemistry,
polarography, diffusion, polarization of microelectrodes, environmental
science, and surface chemistry.