Pauling’s Nobel Nominators: Chemistry, 1940-1948


The Nobel Ceremony, Stockholm, Sweden, December 10, 1954. Pauling stands at right. Image by Hans Malmberg.

[Part 4 of 6]

Linus Pauling was nominated at least seventy times for a Nobel Prize and was first nominated for the Chemistry Prize in 1940.  He received nominations nearly every year after until he received the Prize in 1954.  He was nominated for the Peace Prize in 1962 before being awarded the Prize in 1963.  He was also nominated in 1953 for Medicine.  Pauling is the only person to have won two unshared Nobel Prizes, although he was also nominated many times as a co-recipient.

Nobel Prize nominations older than fifty years old are available in an online database for researchers and other interested parties to review. Nominations are sealed for fifty years, as stipulated by the statutes of the Nobel Foundation.  The database includes the nominator’s name and some additional basic information, including location and institutional affiliation.

Today’s post will focus on those who nominated Pauling for the Nobel Chemistry Prize during the years 1940-1948. (You’ll see that Pauling was quite popular in 1948) Later posts will itemize the remainder of his Nobel Chemistry nominations, as well as his nominations for Physiology or Medicine, and for Peace.



  • John G. Kirkwood: American physicist and chemist who focused on physical chemistry.  He earned his BS from the University of Chicago and his PhD from MIT.
  • Karl Landsteiner: Considered the father of transfusion medicine, he was an Austrian immunologist and pathologist. He won the 1930 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine for his discovery of the major blood groups and for the development of the ABO system of blood typing, which allowed for successful blood transfusions.  When he nominated Pauling, he was a member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences and worked at the Rockefeller Institute for Medical Research (now Rockefeller University).
    • Nominated with Max Bergmann: Jewish-German biochemist who specialized in decoding protein and peptide structures. This discovery was key for understanding biochemical processes. At the time of his nomination he was a doctor in New York City.



  • Albert Szent-Györgyi: Hungarian physiologist who won the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine in 1937 “for his discoveries in connection with the biological combustion process with special reference to vitamin C and the catalysis of fumaric acid.”  He was credited with discovering vitamin C and the components and reactions of the citric acid cycle.  When he nominated Pauling, he was a chairholder at the University of Szeged in Hungary, a Nobel invited university for the Chemistry Prize.



  • Robert Millikan: American experimental physicist, who won the 1923 Nobel Prize in Physics for his measurement of the elementary electronic charge and his work on the photoelectric effect. In 1923 he was working at Caltech.



  • William N. Lacey: A chemical engineer, Lacey was a chairholder at Caltech, which was an invited university in 1944.  While at Caltech, Lacey helped to develop the chemical engineering program.  He was also the author or co-author of six textbooks and over 140 scientific papers.
    • Lacey and Stuart Bates (below) made their nominations jointly
  • Stuart J. Bates: Professor of physical chemistry and chairholder at an invited university, Caltech.
  • Joseph Koepfli: Caltech chemist and research associate in organic chemistry.  Koepfli worked to develop the blood substitute oxypolygelatin with Pauling and during the Second World War he also researched antimalarial drugs.  In 1944 he was a chairholder when Caltech was invited to nominate laureates.



  • Kirkwood (see 1940 above)
  • Robert Livingston: Physician, neuroscientist, and social activist.  Professor of physiology and chairholder at the invited University of Minnesota.
  • Charles P. Smyth: American physical chemist and chairholder at an invited university, Princeton.  He studied dielectric properties of matter.

Pauling and colleagues in Paris, 1948.


  • Sir Christopher Kelk Ingold: British chemist who studied reaction mechanisms and the electronic structure of organic compounds.  His work served as an introduction into mainstream chemistry of nucleophile, electrophile, inductive and resonance effects and he is regarded as one of the chief pioneers of organic chemistry.  He was a chairholder at University College of London, an invited university, at the time of Pauling’s nomination.
  • Richard Badger: Professor of chemistry and chairholder at an invited university. He developed Badger’s rule, which expresses the relationship between the forces acting between two atoms and the distance separating them.  As an authority on the spectroscopic study of molecules in the infrared, visible, and ultraviolet regions, he conducted important spectroscopic studies of complex molecules.  He also used spectroscopic techniques to explore the conditions under which hydrogen bonds form and to study the contributions such bonds make to the stability of molecular structures.  Badger’s experimental results constituted a valuable resource for his Caltech colleague, Linus Pauling.
    • This nomination was made jointly by Badger, Stuart Bates and William Lacey (see 1944 above), as well as Howard Lucas, Carl Niemann, Bruce Sage, Ernest Swift, and James Sturdivant, all of the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena.
  • Howard J. Lucas: Organic chemist and chairholder at an invited university.  He was at Caltech from the beginning, beginning his career when the school was still known as the Throop College of Technology.  Throughout his career he focused on teaching. Indeed, his real field of endeavor, as he explained it, was “the synthesis of chemists from the raw material of Caltech undergraduates.”
  • Carl Niemann: American biochemist who worked extensively on the chemistry and structure of proteins at Caltech, where in 1948 he was a chairholder.  He is known, with Max Bergmann, for proposing the Bergmann-Niemann hypothesis, which states that proteins consist of 288 residue polypeptides or multiples thereof with periodic sequences of amino acids.  He also contributed to the downfall of the cyclol model of protein structure.  Niemann joined Pauling’s Crellin Laboratory at Caltech in 1938. In 1939 Niemann and Pauling published a strong critique of Dorothy Wrinch’s cyclol hypothesis of protein structure, which held that globular proteins formed inter-linked polyhedral structures. In their rebuttal, Niemann and Pauling argued that X-ray crystallography and other data indicated that cyclol bonds did not occur in proteins and that polypeptides were held together in globular proteins by hydrogen bonds and weaker intermolecular forces.  Niemann went on to head research in immunochemistry and the organic chemistry of proteins.
  • Bruce H. Sage: Chairholder at an invited university, Caltech.  Sage studied petroleum chemistry and phase equilibria in hydrocarbon systems.
  • Ernest H. Swift: Professor in chemical engineering and chairholder at an invited university, Caltech. His work focused on analytical chemistry.
  • James H. Sturdivant: Chemist and professor of chemistry at Caltech from 1938-72. He also served as a chairholder at the invited university and wrote several articles with Pauling.  He developed the X-ray instrumentation necessary to probe the atomic positioning of crystals of a wide variety of chemical and biological materials.  Using this technology, he determined the crystal structures of brookite, PtMe3Cl, and cerium metal.  He also developed X-ray diffraction methods to determine the structures of complex ions in solution.
  • Harold Clayton Urey: Working at the University of Chicago, Urey was an American physical chemist whose pioneering investigations of isotopes earned him the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1934 for the discovery of deuterium.  He played a significant role in the development of the atom bomb and gaseous diffusion, but may be most well-known for his contributions to theories on the development of organic life from non-living matter.  In 1958 he accepted a post as a professor-at-large at the new University of California, San Diego where he helped to create the science faculty. He was one of the founding members of UCSD’s school of chemistry, which was created in 1960.
    • This nomination was made jointly with Willard Libby and Joseph Mayer.
  • Willard Frank Libby: A physical chemist and specialist in radiochemistry – particularly hot atom chemistry, tracer techniques, and isotope tracer work.  Libby became well-known at the University of Chicago for his work on natural carbon-14 (radiocarbon) and its use in dating archaeological artifacts. He also studied natural tritium and its use in hydrology and geophysics.  While at the University of Chicago he performed a wide range of scientific advisory and technical consultancy work with industrial firms associated with the Institute for Nuclear Studies, as well as with the Atomic Energy Commission, defense departments, scientific organizations and other universities.  He won the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1960 for creating the method of carbon-14 dating.
  • Joseph Mayer: A theoretical physical chemist, researcher, author and consultant, Mayer is best known for his work on the application of statistical mechanics to concepts of liquids and dense gases.  He formulated the Mayer expansion in statistical field theory, the cluster expansion method, and the Mayer-McMillan solution theory.  In 1948 he was a chairholder at the invited University of Chicago.
  • James Partington: A British physical chemist and historian of chemistry, he was a fellow and council member of the Chemical Society of London as well as the first president of the Society for the History of Alchemy and Early Chemistry, founded in 1937.  His efforts helped to lay the groundwork for the forward evolution of physical chemistry following both World Wars.  He was at an invited university, Queen Mary College in London, when he nominated Pauling.
  • George Glockler: Physical chemist at the University of Iowa who studied the electrochemistry of gases, molecular structure, and bond energies. He was also a member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences.
    • Nominated with Glenn Theodore Seaborg: Seaborg spent most of his career as an educator and research scientist at the University of California, Berkeley, serving as a professor, and, between 1958 and 1961, as the university’s chancellor.  He was the principal discoverer or co-discoverer of ten elements: plutonium, americium, curium, berkelium, californium, einsteinium, fermium, mendelevium, nobelium and element 106, which, while he was still living, was named seaborgium in his honor.  He also discovered more than 100 atomic isotopes and is credited with important contributions to the chemistry of plutonium, originally as part of the Manhattan Project, where he developed the extraction process used to isolate the plutonium fuel used in the second atomic bomb.  He shared the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1951, awarded jointly with Edwin Mattison McMillan “for their discoveries in the chemistry of the transuranium elements.”
      • Glocker’s first choice for awarding the prize was to Seaborg, while his second choice was Pauling.
  • László Zechmeister: Chairholder at an invited university, Caltech. Zechmeister played a major role in the rapid expansion of the use of chromatography during his years as a professor at the University of Pécs, Hungary, where worked before moving to Caltech in 1940.  He also was the author of the first comprehensive chromatography textbook.
    • Nominated with Paul Rabe: Alkaloid chemist who, while in Hamburg, Germany, succeeded in establishing the correct molecular formula for quinine and successfully synthesized it from quinotoxine.
    • Nominated with Robert Burns Woodward: American synthetic organic chemist at Harvard who is considered by many to be the preeminent organic chemist of the twentieth century, having made key contributions to the subject, especially in the synthesis of complex natural products and the determination of their molecular structure.  He showed that natural products could be synthesized by careful applications of the principles of physical organic chemistry.  In 1965 he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his achievements in organic synthesis.
  • Urey (see above)
    • Nominated with Klaus Clusius: German physical chemist and professor based in Zurich who worked on the German nuclear project during the Second World War, focusing on isotope separation and heavy water production.  In 1938 he developed a thermodiffusion isotope separation tube with his younger colleague, Gerhard Dickel.  His main fields of interest were reaction kinetics, low temperature studies, and the investigation of isotopes.
    • Nominated with Gerhard Dickel: Developed a thermodiffusion isotope separation tube, in 1938, with Clusius.  He was a professor in Munich at the time of his nomination.
    • Urey’s first choice was Seaborg and J. Kennedy, while his second choice was Clusius, possibly divided with Dickel. His third choice was Pauling.
  • Byron Riegel: Organic chemist and chairholder at an invited university, Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois. He studied oral contraceptives.
    • Nominated with Roger Adams: American organic chemist at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign best known for the Adams catalyst.  His furthered the understanding of the composition of naturally occurring substances such as complex vegetable oils and plant alkaloids.  Adams’ research represents a high point for structural organic chemistry, particularly on natural products, before the Instrumental Revolution and before the emergence of physical organic chemistry as a major field.
    • Nominated with Arne W. Tiselius: In 1947 Tiselius became a member of the Nobel Committee for Chemistry and served as vice-president of the Nobel Foundation.  He was awarded the 1948 Nobel Prize in Chemistry “for his work on electrophoresis and adsorption analysis and especially for his discovery of the complex nature of the proteins occurring in blood serum.” He discovered the governing factors, and developed a very elegant and accurate optical method, for the quantitative measurement of the diffusion of water vapor and other gases into zeolite crystals.
    • Riegel’s first choice was Pauling, followed by Adams and then Tiselius. His fourth choice was Glenn Seaborg, and his fifth was Vladimir Ipatieff.



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