Herbert Sander Gutowsky


Honorary Degree (1983)
Doctor of Science
Location: Bloomington
Presenter: John William Ryan


Herbert S. Gutowsky's pioneering research and continuing achievements in nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy have had a monumental impact on chemistry and, indeed, on virtually all scientific investigations requiring molecular structure analysis or reaction studies. As the first chemist to focus on Purcell and Bloch's discovery of absorption of radio frequencies by change in nuclear spin orientation, Gutowsky is credited with stimulating the explosion of interest in this, now the most widely employed instrumental development in chemistry, biochemistry, and biology. Since 1948 he has steadily increased the breadth of studies of the structure and molecular motion of molecules in solids and solutions, the origin of chemical shifts in nuclear magnetic resonance spectra, the existence and origin of scalar spin-spin coupling, and the use of nuclear magnetic resonance to understand chemical exchange reactions and molecular conformational changes. His contributions are an integral part of our understanding of chemistry.

This eminent scientist was born in Michigan and received his public school education in Hammond, Indiana. He received his A.B. degree in chemistry from Indiana University, with high honors, in 1940. After a four-year interruption due to military service in World War II, he received his gradaute degrees at the University of California at Berkeley and at Harvard University. Since 1948 he has been a member of the faculty of the University of Illinois at Urbana. He was a Guggenheim Fellow early in his career. In 1967 he was named head of the Department of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering and in 1970 he became director of the School of Chemical Sciences and head of the Department of Chemistry.

Most of the significant honors in his field have come to Professor Gutowsky. In 1977 he received the most prestigious award in science in this country, the National Medal of Science "for pioneering studies in nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy." He was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 1960 and to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1969. He is a recipient of the Irving Langmuir Award in Chemical Physics and of the Peter Debye Award in Physical Chemistry, both from the American Chemical Society.

Professor Gutowsky is an influential leader in the major professional organizations in chemistry and related sciences. He has been chairman of the Physical Chemistry Division of the American Chemical Society; chairman of the Chemistry Panel, National Science Foundation; and chairman of the Panel on Atmospheric Chemistry, Committee on Impacts of Stratospheric Change, National Academy of Sciences. He has also held numerous other positions of responsibility, especially in the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Professor Gutowsky continues to influence a new generation of students and others through his leadership at the University of Illinois, by his research, which expands the techniques and concepts he introduced to science, and by his stature as a leader in the determination and implementation of the nation's policies in science and technology.