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William N. Lipscomb, Jr.
William n lipscomb jr.jpg
Born (1919-12-09)December 9, 1919
Died April 14, 2011(2011-04-14) (aged 91)
Nationality American
Alma mater University of Kentucky
California Institute of Technology
Awards Nobel Prize in Chemistry (1976)
Scientific career
Fields Nuclear magnetic resonance
Theoretical chemistry
Boron chemistry
Institutions University of Minnesota
Harvard University
Doctoral advisor Linus Pauling
Doctoral students Roald Hoffmann
Russell M. Pitzer
Thomas A. Steitz
Donald Voet
Don C. Wiley
Other notable students Michael Rossmann
Raymond C. Stevens

William Nunn Lipscomb, Jr. (December 9, 1919– April 14, 2011) was a Nobel Prize-winning American inorganic and organic chemist. He worked in nuclear magnetic resonance, theoretical chemistry, boron chemistry, and biochemistry.

Lipscomb was born in Cleveland, Ohio. His family moved to Lexington, Kentucky in 1920.He lived there until he earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Chemistry at the University of Kentucky in 1941. Then he earned his Doctor of Philosophy degree in Chemistry from the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) in 1946.

From 1946 to 1959, he taught at the University of Minnesota. From 1959 to 1990, he was a professor of chemistry at Harvard University. After 1990, he became a professor emeritus at Harvard.

Lipscomb went to live in Cambridge, Massachusetts until his death in 2011 from pneumonia.

Lipscomb was one of the first people to use nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) to study chemical structures. He learned out how to look at NMR data to find what atoms are connected together in a molecule. This is called "chemical shift".

Lipscomb studied molecules. These molecules included boron atoms. Lipscomb used this work to learn basic ideas about how atoms form chemical bonds. Lipscomb and his students created many important ideas in the field of theoretical chemistry. His work on boron compounds won a Nobel Prize in 1976. Three of his students went on to also win separate Nobel Prizes in Chemistry.

Lipscomb's later research was on the atomic structure of proteins. He studied how enzymes work. His group used x-ray diffraction to measure the three-dimensional structure of these proteins. He calculated the exact location of every single atom in these large molecules. Lipscomb then studied these details to learn how the molecules work in biological systems.

carboxypeptidase A

Carboxypeptidase A was the first protein structure from Lipscomb's group.

Awards and Honors

Five books and published collections of writings are dedicated to Lipscomb.

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