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Albert W. Burgstahler

by Susan J. Ainsworth
January 27, 2014 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 92, Issue 4


Albert W. Burgstahler, 85, a professor emeritus of chemistry at the University of Kansas, died on Oct. 12, 2013, at his home in Lawrence, Kan., after a brief illness.

Burgstahler received a B.S. in chemistry from the University of Notre Dame in 1949 before studying chemistry at Harvard University, where he earned an M.S. in 1950 and a Ph.D. in 1953 under Gilbert Stork. He was a postdoctoral fellow at Birkbeck College (now Birkbeck, University of London) working with Derek Barton and at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, working with Eugene van Tamelen.

Joining the chemistry faculty at Kansas in 1956, Burgstahler became a professor in 1965 and professor emeritus in 1998.

Burgstahler was an expert practitioner of the synthesis and chemistry of natural products, including cantharidin, resin acids, prostaglandins, and insect pheromones. His pioneering studies of the chiroptical properties of helically chiral dienes and enones demonstrated the importance of allylic electronic delocalization.

After his retirement in 1998, Burgstahler was elected to the editorship of Fluoride, a quarterly scientific journal published by the International Society for Fluoride Research; he held that position until his death.

Since 1997, he was also engaged in intensive research on the Shakespeare authorship question. Burgstahler was an emeritus member of ACS, joining in 1952.

Burgstahler is survived by three daughters, Maria Bokor, Janet Anderson, and Jennifer Burgstahler; two sons, Albert and David; 10 grandchildren; and five great-grandchildren. His wife of 53 years, Patricia, died in 2010.

Obituary notices of no more than 300 words may be sent to Susan J. Ainsworth at and should include an educational and professional history.


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