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Robert S. Mulliken

Physical ChemistChicago, IL

Manhattan Project VeteranNobel Prize WinnerScientist
Robert S. Mulliken (Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons/GF Hund)

Robert S. Mulliken (1896-1986) was an American physical chemist and winner of the 1966 Nobel Prize in Chemistry. He is best known for his work in developing the molecular orbital theory of molecular structure.

Mulliken was named to the Advisory Committee on Uranium Research at the National Academy of Sciences in 1941, which reviewed the status of fission research. He took leave from his teaching duties at the University of Chicago after the University’s Metallurgical Laboratory was founded in 1942, and served as a research associate, Coordinator of Information, and Director of Editorial Work and Information at the Met Lab. He was a signer of the Szilard Petition.

After the war, Mulliken continued his research into valence theory and molecular structure, which earned him the nickname “Mr. Molecule.”

He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1966 “for his fundamental work concerning chemical bonds and the electronic structure of molecules by the molecular orbital method.” He was the recipient of many other honors, including the Priestley Medal, the highest honor of the American Chemical Society.


Robert S. Mulliken's Timeline
1896 Jun 7th Born in Newburyport, Massachusetts.
1917 Received a B.S. in Chemistry from MIT.
19171918 Studied poison gas in a laboratory at American University in Washington, DC under the direction of James B. Conant.
1921 Received a Ph.D. in Physical Chemistry from the University of Chicago.
19261928 Served as Assistant Professor of Physics at New York University.
1928 Elected to the National Academy of Sciences.
1931 Appointed Professor of Physics at the University of Chicago.
1941 Appointed member of the Advisory Committee on Uranium Research at the National Academy of Sciences.
19421945 Worked on the Manhattan Project at the University of Chicago Metallurgical Laboratory as Coordinator of Information and Research Associate.
1966 Awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his work on molecular orbital theory.
1983 Awarded the Priestley Medal from the American Chemical Society.
1986 Oct 31st Died in Arlington, Virginia.

Scientists at the University of Chicago, 1929, including Arthur Compton (back row, left), Robert Mulliken (back row, second from right), and Werner Heisenberg (front row, left). Image courtesy GF Hund/Wikimedia Commons.

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