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Fun Facts: American Chemist Dudley R. Herschbach

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What better way to prepare for your future than by studying successful chemists who came before you. This will not only show you a career path that someone else has taken, but it will also introduce you to new awards, undiscovered university/college programs and past research collaboration efforts.


Dudley Robert Herschbach, 84, is an American chemist who won the Nobel Prize for Chemistry with Yuan T. Lee and John C. Polanyi in 1986 "for their contributions concerning the dynamics of chemical elementary processes." Since 2003, he was an emeritus professor of science at Harvard University. He is currently on a “perpetual sabbatical” and spends time researching strategies for quantum computation, transformations of electronic structure induced by superintense laser fields, and generic properties of phase transitions in molecular fluids.


Here’s a few fun facts about this award-winning chemist that should encourage you study harder and work harder in the field:

  • He spent most of his childhood milking a cow, feeding the livestock, or picking fruits.
  • He studied Mathematics (B.S.) and Chemistry (M.S.) at Stanford University, followed by Physics (A.M.) and Chemical Physics (PhD) at Harvard University.
  • His chief mentor at Stanford, Harold Johnston hired him as a summer research assistant, and taught him chemical kinetics in his senior year.
  • In 1959, Herschbach joined the University of California at Berkeley, where he was initially appointed Assistant Professor of Chemistry and two years later, Associate Professor.
  • In 1963, he joined the faculty of Harvard as Professor of Chemistry. There, he continued his work on molecular-beam reactive dynamics.
  • Herschbach married an Organic Chemistry Harvard student, Georgene Botyos in 1964.
  • He has also received the Jaroslav Heyrovsky Medal (1992), the Sierra Nevada Distinguished Chemist Award (1993), the Kosolapoff Award of the ACS (1994), the William Walker Prize (1994) and the Council of Scientific Society President's Award for Support of Science (1999).
  • He has published over 400 scholarly papers.

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