Richard N. Zare

National Medal of Science

Chemistry

For his seminal contributions to molecular spectroscopy, photochemistry, and chemical reaction dynamics, especially for his incisive theoretical methods and the development of the experimental technique of laser induced fluorescence.

For his seminal contributions to molecular spectroscopy, photochemistry, and chemical reaction dynamics, especially for his incisive theoretical methods and the development of the experimental technique of laser induced fluorescence.

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Birth
November 19, 1939
Age Awarded
44
Country of Birth
USA
Key Contributions
Laser Induced Fluorescence Method
Awarded by
Ronald Wilson Reagan
Education
Harvard University
Areas of Impact
Theory & Foundations
Affiliations
Stanford University
Other Prizes
NAS Award in Chemical Sciences
D

During Richard N. Zare’s childhood, his father discouraged him from studying chemistry. His father once pursued a career as a chemist but flunked out of graduate school and felt his son would only experience the same unhappiness he did. But it was not enough to deter Zare. When Zare’s father refused to let his son borrow his old chemistry set, Zare bought supplies from a local pharmacist to experiment with.

Zare’s interest in chemistry led him to an academic career that took him to institutions across the country; from MIT to the University of Colorado Boulder to Columbia University and, finally, to Stanford. Over the course of his career, he established himself as a pioneer in using lasers in chemistry research to analyze chemicals and their reactions.

Zare has used lasers for a wide-range of research topics, everything from studying beer bubbles to looking for signs of life in Mars meteorite. Following Zare’s lead, researchers around the world continue to use lasers to study reactions.  

By Jacob Kerr

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