Eugene van Tamelen

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Eugene Earle van Tamelen
Born (1925-07-20)July 20, 1925
Zeeland, Michigan
Died December 12, 2009(2009-12-12) (aged 84)
Residence United States
Citizenship United States
Fields Organic chemistry
Institutions Stanford University
Alma mater Harvard University
Doctoral students K. Barry Sharpless

Eugene Earle van Tamelen (July 20, 1925 – December 12, 2009) was an organic chemist who contributed especially to bioorganic chemistry.[1]

Van Tamelen published his first paper in the preeminent Journal of the American Chemical Society while an undergraduate at Hope College. He did graduate work at Harvard University, receiving his doctorate in 1950. He began his teaching career at the University of Wisconsin, later joining the faculty of Stanford University, where he spent the majority of his career. Among his many students was Nobelist K. Barry Sharpless. van Tamelen died of cancer in 2009.

He pioneered in what is today called biomimetic synthesis. He was the first to identify squalene oxide as a precursor in the biosynthesis of cholesterol.[2] Van Tamelen was also the first to synthesise Dewar benzene. Among his awards, he received the ACS Award in Pure Chemistry and was elected to the US National Academy of Sciences. What most people do not know is that he also found a way to fix nitrogen at atmospheric pressure and temperature using titanocene.

van Tamelen was also the owner of the first Marshall Erdman-built Frank Lloyd Wright-designed pre-fabricated house, commonly known as the "Eugene van Tamelen House".[3]


  1. ^ Chang, Kenneth (December 29, 2009). "Eugene van Tamelen, 84, Dies; Chemist Inspired by Nature". The New York Times. Retrieved December 31, 2009. 
  2. ^ E. E. van Tamelen “The Role of Organic Synthesis in Bioorganic Chemistry” Pure Appl. Chem., 1981, Vol. 53, No. 6, pp. 1259-1270. doi:10.1351/pac198153061259.
  3. ^ Eugene Van Tamelen House (Erdman Prefab I), retrieved April 18, 2012