John D. Roberts

National Medal of Science

Chemistry

For his pioneering studies in nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy and reaction mechanisms in organic chemistry.

For his pioneering studies in nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy and reaction mechanisms in organic chemistry.

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Birth
June 8, 1918
Age Awarded
72
Country of Birth
USA
Key Contributions
Research in Image result for NMRlucas.lakeheadu.ca Nuclear Magnetic Resonance and Organic Chemistry
Awarded by
George H. W. Bush
Education
University of California, Los Angeles
Areas of Impact
Theory & Foundations
Health & Medicine
Affiliations
California Institute of Technology
Other Prizes
NAS Award in Chemical Sciences
C

Chemist John D. Roberts faced numerous detours on his path to success. Roberts is best known for his work with nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy and spent much of his career finding ways to apply that research to organic chemistry and biochemistry.

Growing up, Roberts visited open house events at the California Institute of Technology, which was near to his home. He hoped to one day attend the prestigious school, but his plans hit a snag in the 1930s.

Roberts’ father owned a business manufacturing furnaces, but lost it during the Great Depression. So when it came time for higher education, Roberts chose to attend the less expensive University of California, Los Angeles.

The change of plans worked in Roberts’ favor. Since UCLA didn’t have many graduate students, he had opportunities to spend one-on-one time with his professors.

After graduating from UCLA in 1941, Roberts spent a decade as an assistant professor at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In 1953, he finally ended up at his dream school — Caltech — where he remains as a professor emeritus in the chemistry department.

By Rachel Warren

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