National Medal of Science
For his pioneering research in bioinorganic chemistry and inorganic photochemistry, and for his many contributions to chemical education.
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BirthNovember 14, 1935
Country of BirthUSA
Key ContributionsFundamental Research In Bioinorganic Chemistry And Photochemistry; Electron Transfer
Awarded byRonald Wilson Reagan
Western Kentucky University
Areas of ImpactTheory & Foundations
AffiliationsCalifornia Institute of Technology
Other PrizesNAS Award in Chemical Sciences
Harry Gray is a pioneer in the field of bio-inorganic chemistry. He’s credited with explaining electron transfer in biological systems, at an atomic level, bridging chemistry and biology. His work paved the way for artificial photosynthetic systems, capturing and storing sunlight for fuel.
The complex work all started with an interest in understanding the beautiful colors of his childhood lab kit.
“I got started as a kid in chemistry because I love colors. I love to to look at colors of compounds and try to figure out why some were red, some were blue,” he said. “I got hooked on chemistry. Chemistry really fascinated me. I wanted to know what these colors were and how the colors were generated by these compounds.”
“It wasn’t until I went to college and studied chemistry and studied theory that I figured out what the colors were due to,” he added. “This was a tremendous experience to finally understand the colors.”
By Christine Ayala