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Fred W. McLafferty
Born May 11, 1923 (1923-05-11) (age 86)
Evanston, Illinois
Residence United States
Nationality United States
Fields Chemist
Institutions Purdue University
Cornell University
Alma mater University of Nebraska
Cornell University
Known for Mass Spectrometry
Notable awards ACS Award in Chemical Instrumentation (1972 )

Fisher Award (1981)

Member of the National Academy of Sciences (1982 )
ACS Nichols Gold Medal (1984 )
Oesper Award (1985 )
Sir J.J. Thomson Gold Medal (1985 )
Field and Franklin) Award (1989)
ASMS Distinguished Contribution in Mass Spectrometry Award (2003)

Fred Warren McLafferty is an American chemist known for his work in mass spectrometry. He is best known for the McLafferty rearrangement reaction that was observed with mass spectrometry.[1] WIth Roland Gohlke, he pioneered the technique of gas chromatography-mass spectrometry.[2] He is also known for electron capture dissociation, a method of fragmenting gas phase ions.[3]


Early life and education

Fred McLafferty was born in Evanston, Illinois in 1923, but attended grade school in Omaha, Nebraska, graduating from Omaha North High School in 1940.[4] The urgent requirements of World War II accelerated his undergraduate studies at the University of Nebraska; he obtained his B.S. degree in 1943 and thereafter entered the US Armed forces. He served in western Europe during the invasion of Germany and was awarded the Combat Infantryman Badge, a Purple Heart, Five Bronze Star Medals and a Presidential Unit Citation.

He returned to the University of Nebraska in late 1945 and completed his M.S. degree in 1947. He went on to work under William Miller at Cornell University where he earned his Ph.D. in 1950. He went on to a postdoctoral researcher position at the University of Iowa with R.L. Shriner.

Dow Chemical

He took a position at Dow Chemical in Midland, Michigan in 1950 and was in charge of mass spectrometry and gas chromatography from 1950 to 1956. In 1956, he became the Director of Dow’s Eastern Research Lab in Framingham, Massachusetts. During this time, he developed the first GCMS instruments[2] and developed techniques for determining the structure of organic molecules by mass spectrometry, most nobly in the discovery of what is now known as the McLafferty Rearrangement.[1]

Academic career

From 1964 to 1968, he was Professor of Chemistry at Purdue University. In 1968, he returned to his alma mater, Cornell University, to become the Peter J. W. Debye Professor of Chemistry. He was elected to the United States National Academy of Sciences in 1982.

See also


  1. ^ a b F. W. McLafferty (1959). "Mass Spectrometric Analysis. Molecular Rearrangements". Annal. Chem. 31 (1): 82–87. doi:10.1021/ac60145a015.  
  2. ^ a b Gohlke, R. S.; McLafferty, F. W., Early gas chromatography/mass spectrometry. J. Am. Soc. Mass Spectrom. 1993, 4, (5), 367-371.
  3. ^ Zubarev, R. A.; Kelleher, N. L.; McLafferty, F. W. Electron Capture Dissociation of Multiply Charged Protein Cations - a Nonergodic Process J. Am. Chem. Soc. 1998, 120, 3265-3266.
  4. ^ Gross ML (2004). "Focus in honor of Fred McLafferty, 2003 Distinguished Contribution awardee, for the discovery of the "McLafferty Rearrangement"". J. Am. Soc. Mass Spectrom. 15 (7): 951–5. doi:10.1016/j.jasms.2004.05.009. PMID 15234352.  


  • Venkataraghavan, Rengachari; McLafferty, Fred W. (1982). Mass spectral correlations. Columbus, OH: American Chemical Society. ISBN 0-8412-0702-X.  
  • Heller, Stephen R.; McLafferty, Fred W.; Stauffer, Douglas B.; Stenhagen, Einar (1989). The Wiley/NBS registry of mass spectral data. New York: Wiley. ISBN 0-471-62886-7.  
  • Stauffer, Douglas B.; McLafferty, Fred W. (1991). The important peak index of the registry of mass spectral data. New York: Wiley. ISBN 0-471-55270-4.  
  • Tureček, František; McLafferty, Fred W. (1993). Interpretation of mass spectra. Sausalito, Calif: University Science Books. ISBN 0-935702-25-3.  

External links



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