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Roberts, John D.
John Dombrowski Roberts was born in Los Angeles, California on June 8, 1918. He received a bachelor's degree in chemistry in 1941 and a doctorate in chemistry in 1944 from the University of California, Los Angeles. In 1945, he went to Harvard to begin a postdoctoral program. In 1946, he became a professor at M.I.T. He left that position in 1953 to become a professor at Caltech.
He revolutionized the field of organic chemistry by pioneering the use of nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy and other techniques to reveal the structures of molecules and how they rearrange in chemical reactions. He popularize the use of isotopes as tracers to monitor where atoms move during chemical reactions and wrote about molecular orbital theory. He won numerous awards for his contributions to chemistry including the Priestley Medal in 1987 and the National Medal of Science in 1990. He became a fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry in 2008 and a fellow of the American Chemical Society in 2009. In 1990, he wrote an autobiography entitled The Right Place at the Right Time. He died of a stroke on October 29, 2016 at the age of 98.
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