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Kenneth S. Pitzer

Kenneth Sanborn Pitzer

In office

In office

Born January 6, 1914(1914-01-06)
Pomona, California
Died December 26, 1997
Berkeley, California

Kenneth Sanborn Pitzer (January 6, 1914 – December 26, 1997) was an American physical and theoretical chemist and educator.[1]

He received his B.S. in 1935 from the California Institute of Technology and his Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley in 1937. Upon graduation, he was appointed to the faculty of Berkeley's Chemistry Department and was eventually elevated to professor. From 1951 to 1960, he served as dean of the College of Chemistry.

He was the third president of Rice University from 1961 until 1968 and sixth president of Stanford University from 1969 until 1971 when he returned to Berkeley. He retired in 1984, but continued research until his death.

He was Director of Research for the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission from 1949 to 1951 and a member of the National Academy of Sciences.[2]

As a scientist he was known for his work on the thermodynamic properties of molecules,[3][4][5] and during his long career he won many awards, mostly notably the National Medal of Science and the Priestley Medal.

His father, Russell K. Pitzer, founded Pitzer College, one of the seven Claremont Colleges in California. His son, Russell M. Pitzer is also a notable chemist who currently serves on the faculty at The Ohio State University.

In the public hearing that led to the revocation of Robert Oppenheimer's security clearance, Kenneth Pitzer testified about his policy differences with Oppenheimer concerning the development of thermonuclear weapons.[6]

See also

Pitzer equations

Pitzer Strain [7]


  1. ^ Hughes, Sally Smith; Leberge, Germaine, eds (1999). Regional Oral History Office, The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley. 
  2. ^ National Academy of Sciences memoir
  3. ^ Curl, Robert F.; Gwinn, William D. (1990). "Biography of Kenneth S. Pitzer". J. Phys. Chem. 94 (20): 7743-7753. doi:10.1021/j100383a001. 
  4. ^ Pitzer, Kenneth S., ed (1993). Molecular Structure and Statistical Thermodynamics: Selected Papers of Kenneth S. Pitzer. World Scientific Series in 20th Century Chemistry. 1. Singapore: World Scientific. ISBN 9810214391. 
  5. ^ Rard, Joseph A. (1999). "Memorial Tribute Kenneth Sanborn Pitzer 1914-1997". Journal of Solution Chemistry 28 (4): 247-264. doi:10.1023/A:1022619709105. 
  6. ^ In the Matter of J. Robert Oppenheimer: Transcript of Hearing Before Personnel Security Board. Washington, D.C.: United States Government Printing Office. 1954. pp. 697-709. 
  7. ^ Gold Book Link

External links

Academic offices
Preceded by
William Vermillion Houston
President of Rice University
Succeeded by
Norman Hackerman
Preceded by
Wallace Sterling
President of Stanford University
Succeeded by
Richard W. Lyman


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