- National Academies (1933)
- American Association for the Advancement of Science
Rolla Neil Harger was born in Decatur County, Kansas on January 14, 1890. He was the son of William Delashmutt and Margaret Elizabeth (Neil). Harger earned his B.A. from Washburn College in 1915, his M.A. from the University of Kansas in 1917, and his Ph.D. from Yale University in 1922 where he was a National Research Council Fellow. He began his teaching career as a laboratory instructor in chemistry at Washburn College from 1913-1915. He became assistant professor in biochemistry and toxicology at the IU School of Medicine from 1922-1929, associate professor from 1929-1933, and professor from 1933-1960. From 1933-1956 he served as chairman of the department. Harger's research focused on poisons, alcohol, ether, vitamins, and he invented the Drunkometer in 1931, an early version of the Breathalyzer that tested intoxication levels. The Drunkometer used a balloon into which people breathed and was the first practical breath test to measure whether people were drunk. The device was patented in 1936. He was an expert witness and consultant in many notable cases. Harger was a member of the committee on driver intoxication for the National Safety Council that drafted a model act to legalize the use of evidence from chemical tests for intoxication and to set limits of body alcohol concentration for motorists. He was also a member of the Indianapolis Safety Council, the American Chemical Society, American Society of Biological Chemists, American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Society for Pharmacology and Experimental Medicine, American Society of Forensic Scientists, and Sigma Xi. Harger died on August 8, 1983.