Robert West (chemist)

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Robert C. West (born 1928) is E. G. Rochow Professor of Chemistry Emeritus at the University of Wisconsin–Madison; Director of the Organosilicon Research Center, University of Wisconsin–Madison 1999–present; President, Silatronix, Inc. (2007–present; Distinguished Professor, Yonsei University, 2007–2011.


West received his Bachelor of Arts in Chemistry from Cornell University in 1950, proceeding on to Harvard University where he received his Master of Arts in 1952 and Ph.D. in 1954. At Cornell, he was a member of the Quill and Dagger society.

Notable work[edit]

West is a chemist best known for his groundbreaking research in silicon chemistry as well as for his work with oxocarbons and organolithium compounds. In 2004, West was listed as one of the most cited scientists during the period 1981-1999, according to a citation survey by Thomson ISI. West's most well-known discovery was the synthesis of the first ever silicon-silicon double bond in 1981, a feat which broke the so-called "double-bond rule" (which stated that main group elements below row two of the periodic table could not form double bonds). West later discovered the first example of a stable silylene, a form of divalent silicon, acting as the silicon analog to the now catalytically important carbene. West also developed a new model for understanding rotations in polymers. West's numerous other discoveries include a siloxane-based electrolyte which has made possible revolutionary rechargeable implantable batteries for biomedical applications including the treatment of spinal injuries and nerve damage. His current interests include the synthesis of silicon-containing anticancer drugs, and the study of silicon and germanium compounds by muon resonance spectroscopy.

Other interests[edit]

West is an instrument-rated pilot with over 2500 hours as pilot-in-command. He is a mountaineer, with over 50 first ascents in the mountains of British Columbia. He is known for his eccentric lifestyle, liberal political views, and activism for women's reproductive rights both in the US and internationally. In 1972, along with Anne Nicol Gaylor, he co-founded the Women's Medical Fund to help Wisconsin women pay for abortions.[1]

His international interests have led to extensive collaborative research with chemistry departments in major universities in countries including Austria, Brazil, Canada, Germany, Hungary, Israel, Japan, Korea, Lebanon, Mexico, Norway and Russia. Many of his over 600 publications have been in collaboration with scientists in countries outside the USA.


  1. ^ Mehta, Hemant (28 October 2013). "Four Decades and 20,000 Abortions Later, Anne Nicol Gaylor's Organization is Still Going Strong". Friendly Atheist blog. Patheos. Retrieved 14 March 2014.

External links[edit]

  • Bob West's bio at the University of Wisconsin's Department of Chemistry site: [1]
  • The Organosilicon Research Center at the University of Wisconsin: [2]
  • Implantable batteries made possible by organosilicon electrolytes: [3]