Organic Chemists

Organic chemists analyze the chemical properties and structure of organic compounds and organic materials. Organic compounds are structurally diverse compounds that contain carbon atoms. As a field of chemistry, organic chemistry involves the study of the physical as well as the chemical properties of organic compounds through spectroscopy and other methods to determine the chemical composition and constitution of such materials. Organic chemists work in a number of fields as organic compounds are present in almost all materials known to mankind such as food additives, paints, drugs, petrochemicals, plastics, explosives, etc. They also work in research and hold teaching jobs in academics. Researchers in this field basically work in the laboratory where they analyze compounds and their reactivity, and develop new compounds with the help of computers with sophisticated modeling and simulation software. Organic chemists form the foundation of the pharmaceutical industry and play a significant role in the development of new medicines to treat various diseases. They facilitate the rise in standards of living as their research is instrumental for the development of practically all industries in the business world. What follows is a collection of the biographies, timelines, trivia and other information about the professional and personal lives of some of the world’s most famous organic chemists.

This ranking is based on an algorithm that combines various factors, including the votes of our users and search trends on the internet.

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 1 
Dmitri Mendeleev
(Inventor of Periodic Table)

Dmitri Mendeleev
4
Birthdate: February 8, 1834
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Tobolsk
Died: February 2, 1907
Russian chemist Dmitri Mendeleev created the Periodic Law and his version of the Periodic Table of Elements that revolutionized the field of chemistry. His table was independent of German chemist Julius Lothar Meyer’s version of the table. Mendeleev also assisted in the development of the first oil refinery in Russia.

 2 
Aleksandr Borodin
(Composer, Chemist)

Aleksandr Borodin
4
Birthdate: November 12, 1833
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Saint Petersburg
Died: February 27, 1887

Aleksandr Borodin was a Russian musical composer. He was one of the popular 19th-century group of musicians known as The Five, who worked together to create a national style of classical music. A chemist and doctor by profession, Borodin also made important contributions to organic chemistry. His best known work as a chemist is his work pertaining to organic synthesis.

 3 
Chaim Weizmann
(Former President of Israel)

Chaim Weizmann
4
Birthdate: November 27, 1874
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Motal
Died: November 9, 1952

Born in Russia, biochemist Chaim Weizmann was a World Zionist Organization leader and later also became the first president of Israel. He had a major role in the Balfour Declaration. Remembered for his research on industrial fermentation, gasoline, and rubber, he also helped establish the Weizmann Institute.

 4 
Alexander Shulgin
(Rediscoverer of MDMA)

Alexander Shulgin
4
Birthdate: June 17, 1925
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Berkeley, California, United States
Died: June 2, 2014

A pioneer of psychedelic drug synthesis, Alexander Shulgin came to be known as The Godfather of Ecstasy, for reinventing the drug MDMA, or ecstasy, for medical use. The Harvard drop-out, who later studied psychiatry and pharmacology, would often experiment his newly invented drugs on himself, his wife, and his friends.

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 5 
Robert Burns Woodward
(Organic Chemist)

Robert Burns Woodward
5
Birthdate: April 10, 1917
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Boston, Massachusetts, U.S.
Died: July 8, 1979

 6 

Asima Chatterjee
0
Birthdate: September 23, 1917
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Kolkata, India
Died: November 22, 2006
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 7 

Adolf von Baeyer
3
Birthdate: October 31, 1835
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Berlin
Died: August 20, 1917

Adolf von Baeyer was a German chemist who is best known for synthesizing indigo. Interested in science from a young age,  he studied chemistry at the University of Heidelberg, where his mentor was the prominent organic chemist August Kekulé. He went on to have a successful career and received the 1905 Nobel Prize in Chemistry.

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 8 
Bernard Feringa
(Organic Chemist)

Bernard Feringa
3
Birthdate: May 18, 1951
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Barger-Compascuum, Netherlands
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 9 
Hans Fischer
(Chemist)

Hans Fischer
3
Birthdate: July 27, 1881
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Höchst on Main, Germany
Died: March 31, 1945

Hans Fischer was a German organic chemist best known for his research into the constitution of haemin and chlorophyll, for which he was awarded the 1930 Nobel Prize for Chemistry. During the early years of his career, he worked at the First Berlin Chemical Institute under Emil Fischer. He later pursued an academic career. 

 10 

Hermann Staudinger
3
Birthdate: March 23, 1881
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Worms, Grand Duchy of Hesse, German Empire
Died: September 8, 1965

Hermann Staudinger was a German organic chemist whose demonstration of the existence of polymers earned him the prestigious Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1953. He also played a key role in the development of pyrethroid insecticides as he was able to explain clearly the molecular structures of pyrethrin I and pyrethrin II. Hermann Staudinger is also credited with discovering ketenes. 

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 11 

Vladimir Prelog
3
Birthdate: July 23, 1906
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina
Died: January 7, 1998

Vladimir Prelog was a Croatian-Swiss organic chemist known for his research into the stereochemistry of organic molecules and reactions. He received his Sc.D under the guidance of prominent chemist and composer Emil Votoček. He had a successful academic career and received the 1975 Nobel Prize in Chemistry. He was also a member of the Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts.  

 12 

Victor Grignard
3
Birthdate: May 6, 1871
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Cherbourg-Octeville, France
Died: December 13, 1935

Victor Grignard was a French chemist whose discovery of the Grignard Reagent earned him the prestigious Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1912. Subsequently, he was honored with a medal of the Legion of Honour, the highest French order of merit. As a chemist, he also played an important role during the First World War.

 13 

Jean-Marie Lehn
2
Birthdate: September 30, 1939
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Rosheim, France

French chemist Jean-Marie Lehn is noted for his work on synthesis of cryptands and his early innovation in supramolecular chemistry. Efforts of Lehn, Donald Cram and Charles Pedersen in discovering and determining applications of cryptands and crown ethers, which paved way for launch of the field of supramolecular chemistry, led them to receive the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1987.

 14 
Charles J Pedersen
(Organic Chemist)

Charles J Pedersen
2
Birthdate: October 3, 1904
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Busan, South Korea
Died: October 26, 1989
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 15 

Robert Robinson
2
Birthdate: September 13, 1886
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Chesterfield, Derbyshire, England
Died: February 8, 1975

 16 

William Lipscomb
2
Birthdate: December 9, 1919
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Cleveland, Ohio, United States
Died: April 14, 2011
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 17 
Paul Sabatier
(Chemist)

Paul Sabatier
2
Birthdate: November 5, 1854
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Carcassonne, France
Died: August 14, 1941

Paul Sabatier was a French chemist known for his work improving the hydrogenation of organic species in the presence of metals. Along with Victor Grignard, he was jointly awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1912. He is also remembered for developing what is now known as the Sabatier process and the Sabatier principle of catalysis. 

 18 

Donald J. Cram
2
Birthdate: April 22, 1919
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Chester, Vermont
Died: June 17, 2001

 19 
Kurt Alder
(Chemist)

Kurt Alder
1
Birthdate: July 10, 1902
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Königshütte (Chorzów), Silesia
Died: June 20, 1958

Kurt Alder was a German chemist whose work on the Diels-Alder reaction, which is named after him and his teacher Diels, earned him the prestigious Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1950. Alder is also remembered for working with Ferdinand Münz, the inventor of EDTA. Over the course of his career, Kurt Alder won many prestigious awards and honorary degrees.

 20 
Derek Barton
(Chemist)

Derek Barton
2
Birthdate: September 8, 1918
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Gravesend, Kent, England
Died: March 16, 1998

 21 
Georg Wittig
(Organic Chemist)

Georg Wittig
1
Birthdate: June 16, 1897
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Berlin, Germany
Died: August 26, 1987

 22 
Heinrich Otto Wieland
(Father of Biochemistry)

Heinrich Otto Wieland
1
Birthdate: June 4, 1877
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Pforzheim
Died: August 5, 1957

Heinrich Otto Wieland was a German chemist known for his research into bile acids, for which he won the 1927 Nobel Prize in Chemistry. He studied under prominent chemist and professor Johannes Thiele at the University of Munich. He had a brilliant academic career and worked actively to protect Jewish students after the passage of the Nuremberg Laws.

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 23 
Otto Wallach
(Chemist)

Otto Wallach
1
Birthdate: March 27, 1847
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Königsberg
Died: February 26, 1931

 24 
Christopher Kelk Ingold
(Organic chemist, Educator)

Christopher Kelk Ingold
0
Birthdate: October 28, 1893
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: London, United Kingdom
Died: December 8, 1970

 25 
Paul Karrer
(Chemist)

Paul Karrer
1
Birthdate: April 21, 1889
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Moscow
Died: June 18, 1971

Nobel Prize-winning Russian-born Swiss chemist Paul Karrer is best remembered for his research on carotenoids, vitamins A and B2, and flavins. Associated with the University of Zurich, he also worked as a chemist at the Georg Speyer Haus in Frankfurt. His penned the famous Textbook of Organic Chemistry, too.

 26 
Jonathan Clayden
(Educator, Chemist)

Jonathan Clayden
0
Birthdate: February 6, 1968
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Kampala, Uganda
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 27 
Adolf Windaus
(Chemist)

Adolf Windaus
1
Birthdate: December 25, 1876
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Berlin, Germany
Died: June 9, 1959

 28 
William Christopher Zeise
(Organic Chemist)

William Christopher Zeise
0
Birthdate: October 15, 1789
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Slagelse, Denmark
Died: November 12, 1847
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 29 

Carl Shipp Marvel
0
Birthdate: September 11, 1894
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Waynesville, Illinois, United States
Died: January 4, 1988

 30 

Alfred P. Wolf
0
Birthdate: February 13, 1923
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: New York City, New York, United States
Died: December 17, 1998
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 31 
Alf Howard
(Explorer, Scientist)

Alf Howard
4
Birthdate: April 30, 1906
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Camberwell, Australia
Died: July 4, 2010