Organic Chemists

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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.
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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
6
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
(The Most Preeminent Synthetic Organic Chemist of the 20th Century)
Robert Burns Woodward
5
Birthdate: April 10, 1917
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Boston, Massachusetts, U.S.
Died: July 8, 1979

Robert Burns Woodward was an American organic chemist best remembered for winning the 1965 Nobel Prize in Chemistry. Regarded as the most preeminent synthetic organic chemist of the 20th century, Woodward is also remembered for his contributions to organic synthesis. Robert Burns Woodward was also the recipient of the Copley Medal, National Medal of Science, and William H. Nichols Medal.

 6 
August Kekulé
(German Organic Chemist Known for His Theory of Chemical Structure and the Tetravalence of Carbon)
August Kekulé
3
Birthdate: September 7, 1829
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Darmstadt, Germany
Died: July 13, 1896

August Kekulé was a German organic chemist. Regarded as one of the most important chemists in Europe, Kekulé is credited with founding the theory of chemical structure, including the Kekulé structure of benzene. Kekulé is also credited with teaching future Nobel Prize winners, Jacobus Henricus van 't Hoff Jr., Hermann Emil Louis Fischer, and Johann Friedrich Wilhelm Adolf von Baeyer.

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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.

 8 
Asima Chatterjee
0
Birthdate: September 23, 1917
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Kolkata, India
Died: November 22, 2006
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 9 
Bernard Feringa
(Organic Chemist)
Bernard Feringa
3
Birthdate: May 18, 1951
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Barger-Compascuum, Netherlands
 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 
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. 

 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 
Vladimir Prelog
(Organic Chemist Who Won Nobel Prize for His Research into the Stereochemistry of Organic Molecules and Reactions)
Vladimir Prelog
0
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.  

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 15 
Charles J Pedersen
(Organic Chemist Best Known for Describing Methods of Synthesizing Crown Ethers)
Charles J Pedersen
2
Birthdate: October 3, 1904
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Busan, South Korea
Died: October 26, 1989

Charles J. Pedersen was an American organic chemist. He is best remembered for winning the 1987 Nobel Prize in Chemistry. He is one of only two Nobel Prize laureates born in Korea. Charles Pedersen is also remembered for spending his entire 42-year career at DuPont, where he gained inspiration from many famous chemists like Roy J. Plunkett and Julian Hill.

 16 
Donald J. Cram
(One of the Founders of 'Host-Guest Chemistry')
Donald J. Cram
2
Birthdate: April 22, 1919
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Chester, Vermont
Died: June 17, 2001

Donald J. Cram was an American chemist who won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1987. He shared the award with Charles J. Pedersen and Jean-Marie Lehn and the trio was also responsible for founding the field of host–guest chemistry. Donald J. Cram was also honored with other prestigious awards including the National Medal of Science.

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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 
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.

 19 
Derek Barton
(British Organic Chemist and One of the Recipients of 1969 Nobel Prize in Chemistry)
Derek Barton
2
Birthdate: September 8, 1918
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Gravesend, United Kingdom
Died: March 16, 1998

Derek Barton was a British organic chemist best remembered for winning the 1969 Nobel Prize in Chemistry. He won the prize alongside Odd Hassel for their contributions to the development of a concept called conformation and its applications in chemistry. Derek Barton also won several other prestigious awards, including the Corday-Morgan Prize, Davy Medal, Ernest Guenther Award, and Copley Medal. 

 20 
Vladimir Vasilyevich Markovnikov
(Russian Chemist Who Contributed to Structural Theory)
Vladimir Vasilyevich Markovnikov
1
Birthdate: December 25, 1837
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Knyaginino, Russia
Died: February 11, 1904

 Russian chemist Vladimir Vasilyevich Markovnikov is best remembered for formulating the Markovnikov's rule or Markownikoff's rule, which elucidates the outcome of some addition reactions. His other contributions in the field of organic chemistry include finding carbon rings with over six carbon atoms and also displaying that although butyric and isobutyric acids have different structures, they have the same chemical formula (C4H8O2).

 21 
Robert Robinson
(British Organic Chemist Who Received Nobel Prize for His Research on Anthocyanins and Alkaloids)
Robert Robinson
2
Birthdate: September 13, 1886
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Chesterfield, Derbyshire, England
Died: February 8, 1975

Robert Robinson was a British organic chemist best remembered for winning the 1947 Nobel Prize for Chemistry for his research on anthocyanins and alkaloids. Robinson is credited with inventing the symbol for benzene; discovering the molecular structures of penicillin and morphine; founding the journal Tetrahedron. Robert Robinson was also the recipient of the Davy Medal, Royal Medal, and Copley Medal.

 22 
Georg Wittig
(German Chemist and One of the Winners of the 1979 Nobel Prize in Chemistry)
Georg Wittig
1
Birthdate: June 16, 1897
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Berlin, Germany
Died: August 26, 1987

Georg Wittig was a German chemist best remembered for winning the 1979 Nobel Prize in Chemistry alongside Herbert C. Brown. Wittig is also remembered for his association with the University of Tübingen, where he served as the chief of the organic chemistry department. Georg Wittig was also the recipient of the prestigious Otto Hahn Prize for Chemistry and Physics.

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 23 
Otto Wallach
(German Chemist Who was Awarded Nobel Prize for His Work on Alicyclic Compounds)
Otto Wallach
1
Birthdate: March 27, 1847
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Königsberg
Died: February 26, 1931

Otto Wallach was a German chemist best remembered for winning the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1910. He won the award for his work on alicyclic compounds. Wallach is also remembered for developing the Wallach rearrangement, the Leuckart-Wallach reaction, Wallach degradation, and Wallach's rule. In 1912, Otto Wallach was honored with the prestigious Davy Medal.

 24 
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.

 25 
Christopher Kelk Ingold
(British Chemist Known for His Pioneering Work on the Electronic Structure and Reaction Mechanisms of Organic Compounds)
Christopher Kelk Ingold
0
Birthdate: October 28, 1893
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: London, United Kingdom
Died: December 8, 1970

Christopher Kelk Ingold was a British chemist. He is best remembered for his pioneering work on the electronic structure and reaction mechanisms of organic compounds, which was responsible for the institution of concepts like electrophile, inductive, nucleophile, and resonance effects into mainstream chemistry. Christopher Kelk Ingold is counted among the pioneers of physical organic chemistry.

 26 
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.

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 27 
Jonathan Clayden
(British Chemist and Educator)
Jonathan Clayden
0
Birthdate: February 6, 1968
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Kampala, Uganda

Jonathan Clayden is a British chemist and educator. He is best known for his association with the University of Bristol, where he is currently working as a professor of organic chemistry. From 2005 to 2011, Jonathan Clayden served as the editor-in-chief of the Beilstein Journal of Organic Chemistry.

 28 
William Christopher Zeise
(Danish Organic Chemist Known for Synthesising 'Zeise's Salt' and Discovering 'Xanthates')
William Christopher Zeise
0
Birthdate: October 15, 1789
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Slagelse, Denmark
Died: November 12, 1847

Danish organic chemist William Christopher Zeise initially aspired to study medicine but later switched to chemistry. He prepared one of the world’s first organometallic compounds, Zeise’s salt, and conducted pathbreaking research in the field of organosulfur chemistry. His achievements got him knighted by the Danish monarch.

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 29 
Carl Shipp Marvel
(American Chemist Who is Known for His Work in Polymer Chemistry)
Carl Shipp Marvel
0
Birthdate: September 11, 1894
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Waynesville, Illinois, United States
Died: January 4, 1988

Carl Shipp Marvel was an American chemist best remembered for his work in polymer chemistry. He played an important role in the Second World War, during which he made significant contributions to US synthetic rubber program. Carl Shipp Marvel is also credited with developing temperature-resistant polymers called polybenzimidazoles, which have applications in the aerospace industry.

 30 
Alf Howard
(Australian Educator, Scientist, and Explorer)
Alf Howard
4
Birthdate: April 30, 1906
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Camberwell, Australia
Died: July 4, 2010

Alf Howard was an Australian educator, scientist, and explorer. He is best remembered for his expedition to Antarctica on board the RRS Discovery; he served as the hydrologist and chemist aboard the RRS Discovery. At the time of his death in 2010, Alf Howard was the lone surviving member of the expedition.

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 31 
Alfred P. Wolf
(American Nuclear and Organic Chemist Whose Played an Important Role in the Evolution of 'Positron Emission Tomography')
Alfred P. Wolf
0
Birthdate: February 13, 1923
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: New York City, New York, United States
Died: December 17, 1998

Alfred P. Wolf was an American organic and nuclear chemist. His discoveries played an important role in the evolution of positron emission tomography (PET). Wolf is also remembered for making significant contributions to the field of organic radiochemistry. Alfred P. Wolf was honored with several prestigious awards, such as the Melvin Calvin Award and American Chemical Society's Nuclear Chemistry Award.