Herbert C. Brown Biography

Academic, Chemist, Scientist(1912–2004)
Herbert C. Brown was a scientist and professor who won the Nobel Prize for his work in organic chemistry.


Herbert C. Brown was born in London, England, on May 22, 1912, and later earned his Ph.D. from the University of Chicago. Brown would go on to do trailblazing, sometimes contested work in the field of organic chemistry, for which he would later share the 1979 Nobel Prize. He also worked as a Purdue University professor and was a highly prolific writer. He died on December 19, 2004, in Lafayette, Indiana.

Early Life and Career

Famed chemist Herbert Charles Brown was born on May 22, 1912, in London, England, and his family moved to Chicago when he was 2 years old. He studied at the University of Chicago, where he earned a Bachelor of Science degree in 1936 and a Ph.D. in 1938.

Trailblazing Work in Chemistry

Herbert C. Brown would go on to do trailblazing, sometimes contested work in the field of organic chemistry. In 1947, Brown became a professor at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana, where he spent most of his academic career, eventually earning the title of R.B. Wetherill research professor emeritus of chemistry. He was also a highly prolific writer.

Brown was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 1957, and was awarded the U.S. National Medal of Science in 1969.

Brown ended his career at Purdue in 1978. The following year, he shared the 1979 Nobel Prize for Chemistry with Georg Wittig for his work in introducing boron compounds as important reagents in synthesis.

Death and Legacy

Herbert C. Brown died on December 19, 2004, at the age of 92, in Lafayette, Indiana. He is remembered today for his pioneering chemistry work, as well as for the numerous honors he earned over his decades-long research career.

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