Herbert S. Gutowsky

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Herbert S. Gutowsky
Born (1919-11-08)November 8, 1919
Bridgman, Michigan
Died January 13, 2000(2000-01-13) (aged 80)
Nationality American
Fields Nuclear magnetic resonance
Institutions University of Illinois at Urbana
Alma mater Indiana University (B.S.)
UC-Berkeley (M.S.)
Harvard University (Ph.D)
Doctoral advisor George Kistiakowsky
Doctoral students 35
Known for Solid-state NMR and NMR spectroscopy
Notable awards Kistiakowsky prize
Wolf prize (1983/84)
Irving Langmuir Prize (1966)
Peter Debye Award (1975)
Member of the National Academy of Sciences, USA

Herbert Sander Gutowsky (November 8, 1919 – January 13, 2000) was an American chemist who was a Professor of Chemistry at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Gutowsky was the first to apply nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) methods to the field of chemistry.[1][2] He used nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy to determine the structure of molecules. This pioneering work made NMR one of the most effective analytical tools in chemical and medical research,[3][2] used for analysis of molecular structure and dynamics in liquids, solids, and gases.[2] His work was relevant to the solving of problems in chemistry, biochemistry, and materials science, and has influenced many of the subfields of more recent NMR spectroscopy.[4][5][6]

Birth and education[edit]

Herbert S. Gutowsky was born on November 8, 1919, one of seven children of Otto and Hattie Meyer Gutowsky of Bridgman, Michigan. He credited his childhood on a produce farm with teaching him the importance of hard work.[7][4] After his mother's death in the Great Depression, the family moved to Hammond, Indiana. Gutowsky attended Hammond High School and sold papers to help support the family.[4]

Gutowsky attended Indiana University, earning his bachelor's degree in 1940. After a period of military service, he attended the University of California, Berkeley.[7] He obtained a master's degree in 1946, working with Kenneth Pitzer.[4] Gutowsky then attended Harvard University, where he worked with George Kistiakowsky, receiving his Ph.D. in physical chemistry in 1949.[7][8] Much of his work dealt with infrared spectrophotometery. He also collaborated with George Pake, resulting in the publication of several important papers on the use of NMR to study molecular structure and motion in solids.[4]

Academic career[edit]

Gutowsky became an instructor in chemistry at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 1948,[8][9] an assistant professor in 1951, an associate professor in 1955,[4] and a full professor in 1956.[7] He was active in researching molecular and solid-state structure, using infrared (IR) and radio frequency spectroscopy, and doing pioneering work with nuclear magnetic resonance and electron paramagnetic resonance.[7]

He served as head of the Division of Physical Chemistry from 1956 to 1962,[8] and became head of the Department of Chemistry from 1967 to 1970. He oversaw the creation of the School of Chemical Sciences, which contained both the departments of chemistry and chemical engineering, and served as its founding director from 1970 to 1983.[7][4] A member of the American Physical Society, he chaired its Division of Chemical Physics from 1974 to 1975.[10]

As a Research Professor of Chemistry at the Center for Advanced Study at the University of Illinois, Gutowsky was active as a researcher and teacher from 1983 to 2000.[8] During this phase of his research career, he used Fourier transform spectroscopy to study the activity of small, weakly bonded molecules in the gas phase.[7]


Physicists Felix Bloch and Edward Mills Purcell shared the 1952 Nobel Prize for Physics for their independent discovery of nuclear magnetic resonance.[11] In nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy, a substance to be analyzed is exposed to electromagnetic radiation under controlled conditions in a magnetic field. Selected wavelengths of radiation will be absorbed by the substance depending on its chemical composition. The absorption spectrum of the material indicates the wavelengths that have been absorbed, enabling researchers to determine the molecular structure of the substance.[12]

Gutowsky was the first to apply NMR to the field of chemistry.[1][2] Gutowsky's early work included investigations into a number of areas of important to the development and use of NMR: (1) Gutowsky used NMR to study structure and motion in solids, connecting experimental observations with theoretical models and leading to important breakthroughs in the understanding of molecular structure[6]:61 (2) Gutowsky determined the origin of chemical shifts.[4][2] (3) Gutowsky discovered spin-spin coupling in molecular liquids[4] and understood its implications for the study of molecular structure[2] (4) Gutowsky used NMR to study mechanisms of chemical exchange and conformational change of molecules. Realizing that NMR spectra were modified as a result of chemical exchanges enabled researchers to measure exchange rates and study exchange processes in a way that had not previously been possible.[4][13]

Quiet, kind and thoughtful, Gutowsky focused on science and worked very closely with all his research associates.[14] One of his graduate students later commented, "Herb was with us round the clock and always supportive. He let us think that we had some of the best ideas, but on reflection we knew where they came from."[4]

During 1976—1986 he published in collaboration with a photosynthesis research group in the Biophysics Department the results of a series of NMR, fluorescence, pulsed light/oxygen evolution studies of biomembranes—including photosynthetic plant membranes/thylakoids [15] [16] and living, green algae—investigating the complex physico-chemical mechanisms of photosynthesis involving Mn+2, Mn+3, Cl and Br ionic effects in photosynthetic oxygen evolution and photosynthetic water oxidation by photosystem II (PS-II) in the oxygen evolving complex (OEC).[17]

Gutowsky was awarded the Wolf Prize in Chemistry in 1983/84 for "his pioneering work in the development and applications of nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy in chemistry".[1] More specifically, the latter prize committee cited explicitly his truly outstanding physical chemistry research results as follows:

"Professor Herbert S. Gutowsky was the first to apply the nuclear magnetic resonance method to chemical research. His experimental and theoretical work on the chemical shift effect and its relation to molecular structure has provided the chemist with working tools to study molecular conformation and molecular interactions in solutions. Gutowsky's pioneering work on the spin-spin coupling effect developed this phenomenon into a 'finger print' method for the identification and characterization of organic compounds. He was also the first to observe the effect of dynamic processes on the lineshape of high resolution nuclear magnetic resonance spectra, and exploited it for the studies of hindered rotation in molecules, Simultaneously with others he discovered the effect of the scalar and dipole-dipole interaction with unpaired electrons in solutions of paramagnetic ions."[1]

Gutowsky’s 1951 publication entitled “Coupling among Nuclear Magnetic Dipoles in Molecules”, the first observation of spin-spin couplings in liquids, was a crucial step in transforming NMR spectroscopy into one of the most powerful tools in chemical science. This publication was honored by a Citation for Chemical Breakthrough Award from the Division of History of Chemistry of the American Chemical Society presented to the University of Illinois in 2016.[18][19][20]

In his later career, Gutowsky expanded on the work of his deceased friend Willis H. Flygare with Fourier transform spectroscopy. Gutowsky's group examined the rotational spectra of weakly bound molecules in the gas phase, and were the first to use this method to study trimers, tetramers, and pentamers.[21][7] He established the length of the silicon–carbon double bond[21][22][23] and the rotational spectrum of the benzene dimer.[24][21][25]

Awards and honors[edit]

Herbert Gutowsky has received many awards and honors, including the following:


Gutowsky was an avid bicyclist in his early life, and also bird-watcher, who later became very interested in growing roses in his own garden.[14] He was married twice, in 1949 to Barbara Stuart with whom he had three sons, and in 1982 to Virginia Warner.[4] He suffered from diabetes and from Parkinson's disease.[21] Gutowsky died on January 13, 2000 in Urbana, Illinois.[3][21]

Other Heads, Department of Chemistry, University of Illinois[edit]

Head Years of Service Years
A. P. S. Stewart 1868–1874 6
Henry A. Weber 1874–1882 8
William McMurtrie 1882–1888 6
J. C. Jackson 1888 1
Arthur W. Palmer 1889–1904 15
Harry S. Grindley 1904–1907 3
William A. Noyes 1907–1926 19
Roger Adams 1926–1954 28
Herbert E. Carter 1954–1967 13
Herbert S. Gutowsky 1967–1983 16
Larry R. Faulkner 1984–1989 5
Gary B. Schuster 1989–1994 5
Paul W. Bohn 1995–1999 5
Steven C. Zimmerman 1999–2000 1
Gregory S. Girolami 2000–2005 5
Steven C. Zimmerman 2005-

See also[edit]

References and Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e "Herbert S. Gutowsky Winner of Wolf Prize in Chemistry - 1983". Wolf Foundation. Retrieved 15 June 2017. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g "Noyes Laboratory at the University of Illinois National Historic Chemical Landmark". American Chemical Society. Retrieved 19 June 2017. 
  3. ^ a b "Herbert S. Gutowsky, 80, Medical Pioneer". The New York Times. January 25, 2000. Retrieved 15 June 2017. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Jonas, Jiri; Slichter, Charles P. (2006). "Herbert Sander Gutowsky November 8, 1919 - January 13, 2000". In National Academy of Sciences. Biographical Memoires, Vol. 88 (PDF). Washington, D.C.: The National Academies Press. pp. 158–173. Retrieved 15 June 2017. 
  5. ^ Morris, Peter (2009). "Book Review: Instrumental-Developments". Chemical Heritage Magazine. 26 (4): 44. Retrieved 15 June 2017. 
  6. ^ a b Reinhardt, Carsten (2006). Shifting and Rearranging: Physical Methods and the Transformation of Modern Chemistry. Sagamore Beach, MA: Science History Publications. 
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h "Herbert S. Gutowsky (1919-2000)". The Department of Chemistry at the University of Illinois. 
  8. ^ a b c d "Herbert Sander Gutowsky". American Institute of Physics. Retrieved 15 June 2017. 
  9. ^ a b Slichter, Charles P (1975). "Some scientific contributions of Herbert S. Gutowsky". Journal of Magnetic Resonance. 17 (3): 274–280. doi:10.1016/0022-2364(75)90192-4. Retrieved 15 June 2017. 
  10. ^ "Division of Chemical Physics". American Physical Society. Retrieved 19 June 2017. 
  11. ^ "E. M. Purcell - Facts". NobelPrize.org. Retrieved 20 June 2017. 
  12. ^ a b Ayala, Christine. "Herbert S. Gutowsky 1976 National Medal of Science Physical Sciences". National Science and Technology Medals Foundation. Retrieved 15 June 2017. 
  13. ^ Zandvoort, Henk (1986). Models of scientific development and the case of nuclear magnetic resonance. Dordrecht: D. Reidel Pub. Co. ISBN 9789027723512. Retrieved 20 June 2017. 
  14. ^ a b Kelly, Maura (January 19, 2000). "Herbert Gutowsky, Mri Pioneer". The Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 15 June 2017. 
  15. ^ Baianu, I. C.; Critchley, C.; Govindjee; Gutowsky, H. S. (1 June 1984). "NMR study of chloride ion interactions with thylakoid membranes". Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 81 (12): 3713–3717. PMC 345289Freely accessible. PMID 16593474. 
  16. ^ Coleman, W.J.; Baianu, I.C.; Gutowsky, H.S.; Govindjee (1984). "The Effect of Chloride and Other Anions on the Thermal Inactivation of Oxygen Evolution in Spinach Chloroplasts". In Sybesma, C. Advances in Photosynthesis Research (PDF). Den Haag: Martinus Nijhoff/Dr. W. Junk Publishers. pp. 283–286. 
  17. ^ "Govindjee: Complete Publication List". 
  18. ^ a b "2016 Awardees". American Chemical Society, Division of the History of Chemistry. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign School of Chemical Sciences. 2016. Retrieved 14 June 2017. 
  19. ^ a b "Citation for Chemical Breakthrough Award" (PDF). American Chemical Society, Division of the History of Chemistry. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign School of Chemical Sciences. 2016. Retrieved 14 June 2017. 
  20. ^ a b Gutowsky, H. S.; McCall, D. W.; Slichter, C. P. (1 November 1951). "Coupling among Nuclear Magnetic Dipoles in Molecules". Physical Review. 84 (3): 589–590. doi:10.1103/PhysRev.84.589.2. Retrieved 15 June 2017. 
  21. ^ a b c d e Arunan, E. (March 25, 2000). "Herbert Sander Gutowsky -- An Obituary". Current Science. 78 (6): 749–750. Retrieved 19 June 2017. 
  22. ^ West, Robert; Hill, Anthony (12 January 1996). "Multiply Bonded Main Group Metals and Metalloids". Advances in Organometallic Chemistry. 39: 100. Retrieved 19 June 2017. 
  23. ^ Gutowsky, H. S.; Chen, Jane; Hajduk, P. J.; Keen, J. D.; Chuang, C.; Emilsson, T. (June 1991). "The silicon-carbon double bond: theory takes a round". Journal of the American Chemical Society. 113 (13): 4747–4751. doi:10.1021/ja00013a006. Retrieved 19 June 2017. 
  24. ^ Schnell, Melanie; Erlekam, Undine; Bunker, P. R.; von Helden, Gert; Grabow, Jens-Uwe; Meijer, Gerard; van der Avoird, Ad (3 May 2013). "Structure of the Benzene Dimer-Governed by Dynamics". Angewandte Chemie International Edition. 52 (19): 5180–5183. doi:10.1002/anie.201300653. Retrieved 19 June 2017. 
  25. ^ Arunan, E.; Gutowsky, H. S. (March 1993). "The rotational spectrum, structure and dynamics of a benzene dimer". The Journal of Chemical Physics. 98 (5): 4294–4296. doi:10.1063/1.465035. Retrieved 19 June 2017. 
  26. ^ "National Academy of Sciences: July 1, 1961". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 47 (7): 1–40. 1961. Retrieved 15 June 2017. 
  27. ^ "Irving Langmuir Award in Chemical Physics". American Chemical Society. Retrieved 15 June 2017. 
  28. ^ "Members of the American Academy Listed by election year, 1950-1999" (PDF). American Academy of Arts & Sciences. Retrieved 15 June 2017. 
  29. ^ "American Philosophical Society Member History: Dr. H. S. Gutowsky". American Philosophical Society. Retrieved 15 June 2017. 
  30. ^ "Chemical Pioneer Award Winners:". American Institute of Chemists. Retrieved 15 June 2017. 
  31. ^ "Pittcon '92". Analytical Chemistry. 64 (3): 133A–137A. 31 May 2012. doi:10.1021/ac00027a716. Retrieved 15 June 2017. 

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