A pioneer in the chemistry of ammonia and related compounds, Edward Curtis Franklin has been described as a frank, curious and energetic experimentalist who often repeated lab demonstrations of the major discoveries of his day, leveraging his glassblowing expertise. As an enthusiastic traveler and outdoorsman, he participated in the Stanford Sierra Club into his fifties. He was an exceptional teacher and served as Stanford's first dean of graduate studies. In the classroom, he was an early proponent of the lecture-demonstration method in chemistry education. Among many honors, in 1923 he became the first Stanford faculty member named president of the American Chemical Society.
As a boy, E. C. Franklin enjoyed hunting, fishing and swimming in the then-frontier landscape around Geary City, Kansas, where he was born in 1862. After a stint as a pharmacist's assistant in Severance, Kansas, he earned his bachelor's and master's degrees in chemistry at the University of Kansas. He completed his doctoral study at Johns Hopkins University (PhD) and served on the faculty at U. Kansas until joining the Stanford faculty in 1903 as Associate Professor then, in 1906, Professor of Organic Chemistry. At Stanford, he turned his research focus from earlier physical-chemical measurements to more purely chemical work. His 1935 monograph The nitrogen system of compounds became a classic and a collector's item.