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Gerhard Herzberg

Gerhard Herzberg, PC , CC , D.Sc , LL.D , FRSC , FRS (December 25, 1904 – March 3, 1999) was a pioneering physicist and physical chemist, who won the 1971 Nobel Prize for Chemistry. Born in Germany, he fled to Canada in 1935, where he continued his distinguished scientific career.

Herzberg's main work concerned atomic and molecular spectroscopy. He is well known for using these techniques that determine the structures of diatomic and polyatomic molecules, including free radicals difficult to investigate in any other way, and for the chemical analysis of astronomical objects.

Herzberg served as Chancellor of Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada from 1973 to 1980.


  • 1904 Born and educated in Hamburg, Germany
  • 1928 Dr.Ing. degree at Darmstadt Institute of Technology under H. Rau
  • 1928–30 Post-doctoral work at the University of Göttingen and Bristol University under James Franck, Max Born, John Lennard-Jones
  • 1930 Darmstadt University of Technology: Privatdozent (lecturer) and senior assistant in Physics
  • 1935 Guest professor, University of Saskatchewan (Saskatoon, Canada)
  • 1936–45 Professor of Physics, University of Saskatchewan
  • 1939 Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada
  • 1945–8 Professor of spectroscopy, Yerkes Observatory, University of Chicago (Chicago, United States)
  • 1948 Director of the Division of Pure Physics, National Research Council of Canada
  • 1951 Fellow of the Royal Society of London
  • 1957–63 Vice President of the International Union of Pure and Applied Physics
  • 1956–7 President of the Canadian Association of Physicists
  • 1960 gives Bakerian Lecturer of the Royal Society of London
  • 1966–7 President of the Royal Society of Canada
  • 1968 Companion of the Order of Canada
  • 1968 George Fischer Baker Non-Resident Lecturer in Chemistry at Cornell University (Ithaca, United States)
  • 1969 Distinguished Research Scientist in the recombined Division of Physics, at the National Research Council of Canada
  • 1970 Lecturer of the Chemical Society of London, receives Faraday Medal
  • 1971 Nobel Prize in Chemistry "for his contributions to the knowledge of electronic structure and geometry of molecules, particularly free radicals"[1]
  • 1971 Royal Medal from Royal Society of London
  • 1973-1980 Chancellor of Carleton University (Ottawa, Canada)
  • 1992 Sworn into the Queen's Privy Council for Canada
  • 1999 Died aged 94

Other honours

Herzberg was honoured with memberships or fellowships by a very large number of scientific societies, received many awards and honorary degrees in different countries. The NSERC Gerhard Herzberg Canada Gold Medal for Science and Engineering, Canada's highest research award, was named in his honour in 2000. The Herzberg Institute of Astrophysics is named for him. He was made a member of the International Academy of Quantum Molecular Science.

The main building of John Abbott College in Montreal is named after him.


    Preceded by
    Luis Federico Leloir
    Nobel Prize in Chemistry
    Succeeded by
    Christian B. Anfinsen,
    Stanford Moore,
    and William Howard Stein
    Academic offices
    Preceded by
    Lester B. Pearson
    Chancellor of Carleton University
    Succeeded by
    Robert Gordon Robertson
    This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Gerhard_Herzberg". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
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