Henry Taube Biography

Scientist, Chemist, Academic (1915–2005)
Henry Taube was a 20th century scientist who earned the 1983 Nobel Prize for trailblazing work in inorganic chemistry.


Born on November 30, 1915, in Neudorf, Canada, Henry Taube earned his Ph.D. at the University of California and later taught in Chicago. In addition to other research, Taube made groundbreaking discoveries about the nature of electron transfers in ion oxidation, thus earning the 1976 National Medal of Science and 1983 Nobel Prize in Chemistry. He died on November 16, 2005.

Early Life

Chemist Henry Taube was born in Neudorf, Saskatchewan, Canada, on November 30, 1915. He studied at the University of Saskatchewan, and went on to get his Ph.D in chemistry at the University of California, Berkeley, in 1940. He became a United States citizen in 1942.

Academic Career

While teaching at Cornell from 1941–46, he worked during World War II at the National Defense Research Committee, then taught at the University of Chicago from 1946–61. In 1962, he joined the faculty of Stanford University, and later became the Marguerite Blake Wilbur Professor of Chemistry in 1976. During his career, he was the recipient of many of the highest awards his profession of inorganic chemistry offered, including the National Medal of Science (1977), the Welch Award (1983) and the Priestly Medal of the American Chemical Society (1985).

Nobel Prize and Death

Taube won the 1983 Nobel Prize for Chemistry for discovering the basic mechanism of chemical reactions that lie behind everything from enzymes to batteries. He was specifically cited for his work in electron transfer reactions, especially in metal complexes—work that has applications in the chemical industry—but it was also noted that he had made at least 18 major discoveries in his field. Taube died at the age of 89 on November 16, 2005, at his home on the campus of Stanford University, where he had taught for two decades.

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