Francis P. Venable began teaching chemistry at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1880. He modified the Bunsen burner so the supply of gas could be gradually and accurately regulated, making it invaluable to the university and to chemistry in general. Venable's other contribution was his discovery of calcium carbide and acetylene gas, while working for the Willson Aluminum Co. of Spray, NC. The company's co-owner, Thomas Willson, took credit for the discovery by applying for a patent and then fled to Canada. Venable was president of UNC Chapel Hill from 1900 to 1914, and when he resigned, the trustees established the Francis P. Venable Chair of Chemistry, which Venable himself filled until retiring in 1930.