JEWISH NOBEL PRIZE WINNERS IN CHEMISTRY
(20% of world total, 30% of US total)
Listed below are recipients of the Nobel Prize in chemistry who were, or are, Jewish (or of half-Jewish descent, as noted). The percentages given above are those corresponding to only those names that appear explicitly on the list below.
- Adolph von Baeyer #,1 (1905)
- Henri Moissan #,2 (1906)
- Otto Wallach #,3 (1910)
- Richard Willstätter # (1915)
- Fritz Haber # (1918)
- George de Hevesy # (1943)
- Melvin Calvin # (1961)
- Max Perutz # (1962)
- Christian Anfinsen 4 (1972)
- William Stein # (1972)
- Ilya Prigogine 5 (1977)
- Herbert Brown # (1979)
- Paul Berg # (1980)
- Walter Gilbert # (1980)
- Roald Hoffmann # (1981)
- Sir Aaron Klug # (1982)
- Herbert Hauptman 6 (1985)
- Jerome Karle 7 (1985)
- John Polanyi 8 (1986)
- Sidney Altman # (1989)
- Rudolph Marcus # (1992)
- George Olah 9 (1994)
- Sir Harold Kroto 10 (1996)
- Walter Kohn 11 (1998)
- Alan Heeger 12 (2000)
- Aaron Ciechanover 13 (2004)
- Avram Hershko 14 (2004)
- Irwin Rose 15 (2004)
- Roger Kornberg 16 (2006)
- Martin Chalfie 17 (2008)
- Ada Yonath 18 (2009)
- Dan Shechtman 19 (2011)
- Robert Lefkowitz 20 (2012)
- Others 21
# Encyclopaedia Judaica (1997 CD ROM edition). (This source was listed by the Library Journal as one of its "Top 50 Reference Works of the Millennium.")
1. Jewish mother, non-Jewish father.
2. Jewish mother, non-Jewish father.
3. Jewish father, non-Jewish mother; see Jüdisches Biographisches Lexikon, by Hans Morgenstern (LIT Verlag, Vienna and Berlin, 2011, p. 839).
4. Convert to Judaism. See next-to-last paragraph: http://profiles.nlm.nih.gov/KK/Views/Exhibit/narrative/biographical.html.
5. The Special Volume in Memory of Ilya Prigogine: Advances in Chemical Physics, Volume 135, edited by Stuart A. Rice (Wiley, New York, 2007, pp. 1-6) contains an introductory article entitled "Ilya Prigogine: His Life, His Work," by the late Radu Balescu, one of Prigogine's oldest associates. Balescu describes Prigogine as a "Russian Jewish immigrant arriving in Brussels at the age of 12..." According to Balescu, Prigogine survived the Nazi occupation thanks to false papers provided to him by the local White Russian community. For other references, see: 1) the December 1980 issue of Quest, p. 86, in which Mary Lukas describes the Prigogine family's emigration from revolutionary Russia to Berlin, and finally to Brussels, where Prigogine found himself "an oddity, a little Jewish boy from somewhere in the East"; 2) The Who's Who of Nobel Prize Winners 1901-1995, 3rd Ed. by Bernard S. and June H. Schlessinger (Oryx Press, Phoenix, AZ, 1996, p. 33); and 3) http://www.jewishgen.org/Belarus/rje_p.htm.
6. See The Who's Who of Nobel Prize Winners 1901-1995, 3rd Ed., edited by Bernard S. and June H. Schlessinger (Oryx Press, Phoenix, AZ,1996, p. 37). See also the interview with Hauptman in Candid Science III: More Conversations with Famous Chemists, by Istvan Hargittai (Imperial College Press, London, 2003, p. 303).
7. See The Who's Who of Nobel Prize Winners 1901-1995, 3rd Ed., edited by Bernard S. and June H. Schlessinger (Oryx Press, Phoenix, AZ,1996, p. 37). See also the interview with Karle in Candid Science VI: More Conversations with Famous Scientists, by Istvan Hargittai and Magdolna Hargittai (Imperial College Press, London, 2006, p. 426).
8. Son of the Hungarian Jewish physical chemist and philosopher Michael Polanyi. See also Ismerjük''oket?: zsidó származású nevezetes magyarok arcképcsarnoka, by István Reményi Gyenes (Ex Libris, Budapest, 1997).
9. George Olah's autobiographical memoirs, A Life of Magic Chemistry (Wiley Interscience, NY, 2001, p. 45), briefly describes the last months of World War II in Hungary. (It was during this period that the Nazis attempted to deport the Jewish population of Budapest.) He states "I do not want to relive here in any detail some of my very difficult, even horrifying, experiences of this period, hiding out the last months of the war in Budapest. Suffice it to say that my parents and I survived." That statement is the closest he comes to identifying himself as being Jewish. Nearly everything in the book is consistent with an upper middle class Hungarian Jewish background, with the exception of his attendance at the Gymnasium of the Piarist Fathers, a Roman Catholic teaching order. (Although many of the parochial schools in Budapest had significant Jewish enrollments.) Further information has materialized as a result of the publication of an op-ed piece in the New York Times on the Holocaust in Hungary, written by Kati Marton ("A Town's Hidden Memory," 21 July 2002). This article resulted in a considerable amount of controversy and letters to the editor. One such letter was by J. L. Jankovich of San Jose, CA, which was sent to the Times, but apparently not published. (It could previously be found at: http://hungaria.org/lists/lobby/admin/article.php?articleid=136.) Concerning the German military occupation that began in the spring of 1944, the letter stated: "Yet for months thereafter our Jewish classmates could still attend our Catholic high school and, after the interruptions of the 1944-45 winter, graduated there. (One of them, Mr. George Olah, now an American citizen, just received the Nobel Prize a few years ago and went back to visit his old school with pride.)" See also Our Lives: Encounters of a Scientist, by István Hargittai (Akadémiai Kiadó, Budapest, 2004, p. 77).
10. Jewish father, non-Jewish mother; see fifth and ninth paragraphs of autobiography: http://www.nobel.se/chemistry/laureates/1996/kroto-autobio.html.
11. See fourth paragraph of autobiography: http://www.nobel.se/chemistry/laureates/1998/kohn-autobio.html.
12. See second paragraph of autobiography: http://www.nobel.se/chemistry/laureates/2000/heeger-autobio.html.
13. See first two paragraphs of autobiography: http://nobelprize.org/chemistry/laureates/2004/ciechanover-autobio.html.
14. See first three paragraphs of autobiography: http://nobelprize.org/chemistry/laureates/2004/hershko-autobio.html.
15. See second paragraph of autobiography: http://nobelprize.org/chemistry/laureates/2004/rose-autobio.html.
16. Son of 1959 Nobel Prize winner in medicine Arthur Kornberg and his wife Sylvy Ruth (née Levy). See, e.g., interview with Arthur Kornberg in Candid Science II: Conversations with Famous Biomedical Scientists, by István Hargittai (Imperial College Press, London, 2002, pp. 50-71). See also this Jerusalem Post article.
17. Son of Eli and Vivian (née Friedlen) Chalfie, who were both children of Russian-Jewish immigrants.
18. Daughter of Polish Jews who settled in British Mandate Palestine in 1933. Yonath's father was a rabbi, as were his father and grandfather. See Candid Science VI: More Conversations with Famous Scientists, by István Hargittai and Magdolna Hargittai (Imperial College Press, London, 2006, p. 390).
19. Descendant of Russian-Jewish olim. Shechtman's mother was a sabra, her parents having emigrated from Russia to Ottoman Palestine as members of the Second Aliyah. His father emigrated from Russia to British Mandate Palestine as part of the Fifth Aliyah. See interview in Candid Science V: Conversations with Famous Scientists, by Balazs Hargittai and István Hargittai (Imperial College Press, London, 2005, pp. 77-78).
20. Son of Max and Rose (née Levine) Lefkowitz, who were American-born children of Eastern European Jewish immigrants.
21. Gerhard Herzberg (1971) appears on some lists of Jewish Nobel Prize winners. In interviews, however, he has maintained that his emigration from Nazi Germany was the result of his wife (née Luise Oettinger) being Jewish, not of his being Jewish. Neither Dudley Herschbach (1986) nor Robert Huber (1988), whose names also appear on some lists, is Jewish.
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