If you have an ACS member number, please enter it here so we can link this account to your membership. (optional)

ACS values your privacy. By submitting your information, you are gaining access to C&EN and subscribing to our weekly newsletter. We use the information you provide to make your reading experience better, and we will never sell your data to third party members.



Jacob Bigeleisen

by Susan J. Ainsworth
October 11, 2010 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 88, Issue 41

Jacob Bigeleisen, 91, a distinguished professor emeritus of chemistry at the State University of New York, Stony Brook, died of pulmonary disease on Aug. 7.

Born to Polish immigrants in Paterson, N.J., Bigeleisen earned an A.B. degree in chemistry from New York University in 1939. He earned an M.S. with Otto Redlich at Washington State University in 1941 and a Ph.D. at the University of California, Berkeley, in 1943 with G. N. Lewis.

Bigeleisen then joined the Manhattan Project at Columbia University, conducting experimental studies on the vibronic states of uranium compounds. Together with Maria Goeppert-Mayer, he developed a quantum statistical mechanical theory of equilibrium isotope chemistry later extended to rate effects. The resulting Bigeleisen-Mayer equation is widely used in studies of reaction mechanisms and isotope fractionation and enrichment processes.

After World War II, Bigeleisen accepted fellowships at Ohio State University and the University of Chicago before joining the chemistry department at Brookhaven National Laboratory in 1948. He moved to the University of Rochester in 1968 for 10 years. Bigeleisen then joined the faculty of SUNY Stony Brook, where he was vice president of research and dean of graduate studies; in 1989 he became distinguished professor emeritus.

Bigeleisen served as associate editor of the Journal of Physical Chemistry and the Journal of Chemical Physics and organized the first Gordon Conference on isotope chemistry in 1958. He was a member of numerous scientific organizations, including the National Academy of Sciences. He was an emeritus member of ACS, joining in 1942, and received the society’s Award for Nuclear Applications in Chemistry (now the Glenn T. Seaborg Award for Nuclear Chemistry) in 1958.

He is survived by his wife of 65 years, Grace; and three sons, David, Paul, and Ira.



This article has been sent to the following recipient:

Chemistry matters. Join us to get the news you need.