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William Lipscomb
Born December 9, 1919 (1919-12-09) (age 90)
Cleveland, Ohio
Nationality American
Fields Biochemistry
Theoretical chemistry
Institutions University of Minnesota
Harvard University
Alma mater University of Kentucky
California Institute of Technology
Notable awards Nobel Prize in Chemistry

William Nunn Lipscomb, Jr. (born December 9, 1919) is an American inorganic chemist, working in experimental and theoretical chemistry and biochemistry.

He was born in Cleveland, Ohio, but his family moved to Lexington, Kentucky when he was an infant, and he lived there until he received his Bachelor of Science degree at the University of Kentucky in 1941. He went on to earn his Doctor of Philosophy degree from the California Institute of Technology in 1946.

From 1946 to 1959 he taught at the University of Minnesota. Since 1959, he has been a professor of chemistry at Harvard University.

He deduced the molecular structure of boranes using X-ray crystallography in the 1950s and developed theories to explain their bonds. Later he applied the same methods to related problems, including the structure of carboranes on which he directed the research of future Nobel Prize winner Roald Hoffmann. His later research focuses on the atomic structure of proteins, particularly how enzymes work.

He is a member of the International Academy of Quantum Molecular Science. Professor Lipscomb is also a member of the Honorary Order of Kentucky Colonels.[1]

He was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 1961, and awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1976.

Lipscomb, along with several other Nobel laureates, is a regular presenter at the annual Ig Nobel Awards Ceremony, most recently doing so in October 2009. [1]


  1. ^ Hargittai, Istvan (2003). Candid Science III: More Conversations with Famous Chemists.. London, UK: Imperial College Press. pp. 27.  

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