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John D. Roberts

by Linda Wang
November 21, 2016 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 94, Issue 46

John D. Roberts
Credit: Linda Wang/C&EN
A photo of John D. Roberts.
Credit: Linda Wang/C&EN

John D. Roberts, 98, died on Oct. 29 in Pasadena, Calif.

“Jack Roberts was an iconic figure. He was an extraordinary chemist and educator. He taught chemists the power of NMR and was a pioneer in the development of physical organic chemistry. For me personally, I first learned both organic chemistry and molecular orbital theory through his timely books. Later, I got to know Jack, a strong, tall man, who was really a teddy bear with a knowing smile. He cared about excellence and about teaching the next generations. He had a tremendous commitment to bringing undergraduates into the research lab. He also mentored many of the Caltech faculty with respect to giving back to the institute and more generally to the chemistry community.”—Jacqueline Barton, chair of the Division of Chemistry & Chemical Engineering, Caltech

Most recent title: Institute Professor of Chemistry, Emeritus, California Institute of Technology

Education: B.A., chemistry, University of California, Los Angeles, 1941; Ph.D., chemistry, 1944

Survivors: daughter, Anne; sons, Donald, John, and Allen; and nine grandchildren

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