In 1960, Robert B Woodward first synthesized chlorophyll, one of many natural products whose structure he defined, garnering him a Nobel Prize in 1965.
Robert Burns Woodward was born in Boston on April 10th, 1917, the only child of Margaret Burns, a native of Glasgow, and Arthur Woodward, of English antecedents, who died in October, 1918, at the age of thirty-three.
Woodward was attracted to chemistry at a very early age, and indulged his taste for the science in private activities throughout the period of his primary and secondary education in the public schools of Quincy, a suburb of Boston. In 1933, he entered the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, from which he was excluded for inattention to formal studies at the end of the Fall term, 1934. The Institute authorities generously allowed him to re-enroll in the Fall term of 1935, and he took the degrees of Bachelor of Science in 1936 and Doctor of Philosophy in 1937.
His interests in chemistry were wide, but the main arena of his first-hand engagement has been the investigation of natural products – a domain he regards as endlessly fascinating in itself, and one which presents unlimited and unparalleled opportunities for the discovery, testing, development and refinement of general principles.
Woodward was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1965 for his outstanding achievements in the art of organic synthesis.
Visit the official web site of the Nobel Foundation to read more about Robert Woodward.
Excerpted with permission, www.nobelprize.org