John D. Roberts Receives 2013 American Institute of Chemists (AIC) Gold Medal

John D. Roberts

John D. Roberts

April 4, 2013 - Philadelphia, PA

The American Institute of Chemists (AIC) has announced that John D. Roberts, Institute Professor of Chemistry, Emeritus, at the California Institute of Technology, received the 2013 AIC Gold Medal. It was presented at the Chemical Heritage Foundation (CHF) during Heritage Day on Thursday, 4 April 2013. Heritage Day is CHF’s annual celebration of achievement in the chemical and molecular sciences.

“John Roberts is one of the leaders and innovators in the field of NMR spectroscopy,” said David Manuta, AIC president. “His work at Caltech strongly influenced the entire field of organic chemistry. As a professor, a mentor, an administrator, and an industry consultant, John Roberts is one of the great names in chemistry in the latter half of the 20th century.”

About John D. Roberts

John D. Roberts serves on the boards of directors of Organic Syntheses, Inc., and University Science Books and was a consultant to DuPont from 1950 to 2008. His research has been concerned with the mechanisms of organic reactions, the chemistry of small-ring compounds, and applications of nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy to organic and bioorganic chemistry and biochemistry. His current research encompasses the application of NMR to conformational analysis and theoretical organic chemistry.

After receiving a Ph.D. in chemistry from the University of California, Los Angeles, in 1944, Roberts began his academic career as an instructor in chemistry at his alma mater. This position was followed by a National Research Council Fellowship at Harvard University in 1945. He then joined the staff of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1946 as an instructor, was promoted to assistant professor in 1947, and to associate professor in 1950. In 1953 Roberts became a professor of organic chemistry at the California Institute of Technology; in 1972 he was appointed Institute Professor of Chemistry and in 1988 Institute Professor of Chemistry, Emeritus, and Lecturer. From 1980 to 1983 he served Caltech as vice president, provost, and dean of the faculty.

Roberts’s numerous awards include the American Chemical Society Award in Pure Chemistry (1954), the Priestley Medal (1987), the National Medal of Science (1990), the Glenn T. Seaborg Medal (1991), the Chemical Pioneer Award of the American Institute of Chemists and the Arthur C. Cope Award of the American Chemical Society (both in 1994), and the National Academy of Sciences Award in Chemical Sciences (1999). In 1998 he was named by Chemical & Engineering News as one of the 75 most influential chemists in the last 75 years. In 2008 he was elected Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry and in 2009 Fellow of the American Chemical Society. He is a member of the American Chemical Society, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Philosophical Society, and the National Academy of Sciences.

Roberts is the author, with M. C. Caserio, of Basic Principles of Organic Chemistry (1965 and 1977 editions) and has written other textbooks on NMR and Hückel molecular orbital calculations and more than 500 scientific papers. ACS Books published his autobiography, At the Right Place at the Right Time, in 1990.

About the AIC Gold Medal

First awarded by the American Institute of Chemists (AIC) in 1926, and jointly awarded with CHF since 2003, the Gold Medal is the AIC’s highest award. It recognizes service to the science of chemistry and to the profession of chemist or chemical engineer in the United States. Previous winners include eleven Nobel laureates as well as other renowned researchers and engineers representing many facets of the world of chemistry. Medalists include Alfred Bader, Arnold O. Beckman, Paul Berg, Herbert C. Brown, F. Albert Cotton, Carl Djerassi, Walter Gilbert, Harry B. Gray, Ralph F. Hirschmann, Roald Hoffmann, Robert L. McNeil, Jr., Glenn T. Seaborg, Oliver Smithies, Max Tishler, Elizabeth H. Blackburn and George M. Whitesides

About the American Institute of Chemists (AIC)

Founded in 1923, the American Institute of Chemists advances the chemical sciences by establishing high professional standards of practice and emphasizing the professional, ethical, economic, and social status of its members for the benefit of society as a whole. The AIC engages in a broad range of programs for professional enhancement through the prestigious Fellow membership category, an awards program, certification programs, and meetings.

About the Chemical Heritage Foundation

The Chemical Heritage Foundation is a collections-based nonprofit organization that preserves the history and heritage of chemistry, chemical engineering, and related sciences and technologies. The collections are used to create a body of original scholarship that illuminates chemistry’s role in shaping society. In bridging science with the humanities, arts, and social sciences, CHF is committed to building a vibrant, international community of scholars; creating a rich source of traditional and emerging media; expanding the reach of our museum; and engaging the broader society through inventive public events.

Need Meeting Space?

CHF’s state-of-the-art conference center is in Philadelphia’s beautiful historic district.

Upcoming Events

Meet us in person at one of our events.


Distillations Podcast logo
Listen to the latest episodes of CHF’s award-winning podcast.