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Bolton, Henry Carrington (28 January 1843–19 November 1903), chemist and historian, was born in New York City, the only child of Jackson Bolton, a physician, and Anna Hinman North. Bolton graduated from Columbia College in 1862 after showing aptitude in mathematics and chemistry. Over the next four years he studied chemistry with some of the best minds in Europe: Jean-Baptiste-André Dumas at the Sorbonne and Charles-Adolphe Wurtz of the École de Médicine in Paris; Robert Wilhelm Bunsen, Hermann Franz Moritz Kopp, and Gustav Robert Kirchhoff at the University of Heidelberg; Friedrich Wöhler at Göttingen; and August Wilhelm von Hofmann of the University of Berlin. In 1866, the year his father died, he was awarded a Ph.D. at the University of Göttingen for his work “On the Fluorine Compounds of Uranium.” Throughout his stay in Europe, Bolton traveled the whole of the Continent, particularly in Switzerland, where he became an expert alpine climber....

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Conant, James Bryant (26 March 1893–11 February 1978), educator and scientist, was born in the Dorchester section of Boston, Massachusetts, the son of James Scott Conant, a photo engraver and real estate developer, and Jennett Orr. Conant attended the Roxbury Latin School, a public boys’ six-year examination school in Boston, and subsequently attended graduate school at Harvard University on an academic scholarship, where he studied chemistry with Nobel Prize winner ...

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James Bryant Conant. Photography by Louis Fabian Bachrach. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-98700).

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Cope, Arthur Clay (27 June 1909–04 June 1966), chemistry professor and administrator, was born in Dunreith, Indiana, the son of Everett C. Cope and Jennie Compton, grain storage operators. Cope received the bachelor’s degree in chemistry in 1929 from Butler University in Indianapolis. He then worked with ...

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Fieser, Louis Frederick (07 April 1899–25 July 1977), chemist and educator, was born in Columbus, Ohio, the son of Louis Frederick Fieser, merchant, and Martha Victoria Kershaw. His father engaged in several Columbus enterprises, principally as co-owner of a pig iron business and as an officer in a building and loan company. After attending Columbus public schools, Fieser went to Williams College, where he majored in chemistry, became a Phi Beta Kappa, and won letters in three varsity sports. He received a bachelor’s degree in 1920. He chose Harvard for his graduate studies, earning the doctoral degree under the direction of ...

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Gross, Paul Magnus (15 September 1895–04 May 1986), physical chemist and university administrator, was born in New York City, the son of Magnus Gross, an educator and city official, and Ellen Sullivan. He received a bachelor of science degree from City College of New York in 1916 and earned a master’s degree and a doctorate from Columbia University in 1917 and 1919. Gladys Cobb Petersen, a Hunter College drama student, became his wife in 1918; they had two children....

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Howe, James Lewis (04 August 1859–20 December 1955), chemist and bibliographer of the platinum metals, was born in Newburyport, Massachusetts, the son of Francis Augustine Howe, a physician, and Mary Frances Lewis. The Howe family was noted for its progressive and liberal outlook. Howe originally intended to become a physician like his father, but during high school in Newburyport he became interested in chemistry. He received his B.A. degree in 1880 from Amherst College, his father’s alma mater....

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Kimball, George Elbert (12 July 1906–06 December 1967), physical chemist and operations research specialist, was born in Chicago, Illinois, the son of Arthur Gooch Kimball, a cutlery salesman, and Effie Gertrude Smallen, a former elementary school teacher. His family moved to New Britain, Connecticut, when he was three years old after his father was promoted and reassigned to corporate headquarters. He attended the local public schools and completed one year at Phillips Exeter Academy in New Hampshire before matriculating at Princeton University in 1924. Although technically a chemistry major, he also took a number of courses in physics and mathematics and received his B.S. in 1928, his A.M. in 1929, and his Ph.D. in quantum chemistry in 1932....

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MacDiarmid, Alan (14 Apr.1927–7 Feb.2007), chemist, professor, and Nobel laureate, was born Alan Graham MacDiarmid in Masterton, New Zealand, to Archibald MacDiarmid and his wife Ruby. Alan’s father was an engineer, and his old textbooks were among Alan’s first contact with science. During the Depression Archibald MacDiarmid was under-employed for long stretches, so Alan entered the workforce. Throughout his life he exhibited a scrappy pride in overcoming economic adversity....

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Porter, John Addison (15 March 1822–25 August 1866), chemist, professor, and university administrator, was born in Catskill, New York, the son of Addison Porter, a merchant, and Ann Hogeboom. His family moved to New York City in 1831 and to Philadelphia in 1836. After attending the Kinderhook, New York, academy, Porter had private instruction in Philadelphia until 1838, when he enrolled at Yale College. A somewhat erratic student—inclined to fail in assignments that were considered easy but brilliant at mathematics and a voracious reader of poetry and fiction—he studied metaphysics and read Kant in translation during his senior year. Hoping to become a Presbyterian minister, as his paternal grandfather had been, he was frustrated by a “persistent skepticism” that he considered the “great calamity” of his undergraduate years. It troubled him until 1860, when he joined St. John’s Episcopal Church of New Haven, Connecticut. Graduating from Yale in 1842 and still hoping to be called to the ministry, he studied Hebrew and modern languages at his parents’ home in Philadelphia, returned to New Haven for a sample of theological study, and then accepted a new vocation....