Charles J Pedersen Biography
(Organic Chemist Best Known for Describing Methods of Synthesizing Crown Ethers)
Birthday: October 3, 1904 (Libra)
Born In: Busan, South Korea
Charles J Pedersen was an American organic chemist who did path-breaking work in describing methods of synthesizing crown ethers. For the same, he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1987, which he shared with Donald J Cram and Jean Marie Lehn, the duo who took his work forward. Pedersen was the first DuPont scientist to won the Nobel Prize and also amongst the handful scientists who were bestowed with the award despite having no doctorate degree. Pedersen’s career as a scientist began when he studied chemical engineering at the University of Dayton in Ohio. He then completed his master’s degree from Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Though a bright student, Pedersen did not want to be supported by his father and thus dropped further studies to work. He found employment at DuPont Company, where he remained till his retirement. Unlike other scientists who usually reach the high point of their career mid-30s or early 40s, Pedersen’s magnum opus came after the age of 60. He was studying the effects of bi- and multidentate phenolic ligands on the catalytic properties of the vanadyl group, VO when he accidentally found unknown crystals of a by-product. Fascinated by the same, he studied further, little knowing that it would lead to a new chapter in chemistry. He discovered crown ethers, a molecule containing hydrogen, carbon and oxygen atoms. It was for this discovery that he was awarded the Nobel Prize.