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Alexander J. (Jerry) Kresge

by Susan J. Ainsworth
November 22, 2010 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 88, Issue 47

Alexander J. (Jerry) Kresge,83, a distinguished contributor to the field of physical organic chemistry and an emeritus professor of chemistry at the University of Toronto, died on June 6.

Born in Wilkes-Barre, Pa., Kresge received a B.A. in 1949 from Cornell University and a Ph.D. in 1953 from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, where he worked with Nelson J. Leonard.

Kresge conducted postdoctoral work with Edward D. Hughes and Christopher K. Ingold at University College London before working as a research associate with Herbert C. Brown at Purdue University from 1954 to 1955 and with C. Gardner Swain at Massachusetts Institute of Technology from 1955 to 1957. Kresge then joined Brookhaven National Laboratory, where he began a career-long scientific partnership with the woman who would become his wife, Yvonne Chiang.

He moved to Illinois Institute of Technology, in Chicago, in 1960 and stayed there until 1974, when he joined Scarborough College of the University of Toronto as a full professor.

Kresge published 350 papers, including 130 in the Journal of the American Chemical Society and 100 after his formal retirement in 1992. His research interests included acid-catalyzed reactions and the stability and reactivity of enols and other short-lived intermediates generated by laser flash photolysis.

He received the Sir Christopher Ingold Lectureship & Medal. Kresge was honored with a special issue of the Canadian Journal of Chemistry in June 1999, and earlier this year, volume 44 of “Advances in Physical Organic Chemistry” was dedicated to him. He was an emeritus member of ACS who joined in 1949.

He is survived by a son, Peter; two daughters, Nell Owens and Nicole Kresge; and five grandchildren. His wife died in 2008.



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