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Gerhard Herzberg

Gerhard Herzberg (1904-1999) was a pioneering theoretical chemist. Born in Germany, he fled in 1935 to Canada, where he continued his distinguished scientific career.

Herzberg's main work concerned atomic and molecular spectroscopy. He is well known for using these techniques to 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.


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 Institute 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
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
1969 Distinguished Research Scientist in the recombined Division of Physics, at the National Research Council of Canada
1968 George Fischer Baker Non-Resident Lecturer in Chemistry at Cornell University
1970 Lecturer of the Chemical Society of London, receives Faraday Medal
1971 Nobel Prize in Chemistry
1971 Royal Medal from Royal Society of London
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.