Past Professor

Nelson J. Leonard
CAS Professor of Chemistry

Professor Leonard received his B.S. from Lehigh in 1937, a B.Sc. from Oxford in 1940, a Ph.D. from Columbia in 1942, and a D.Sc. from the University of Oxford in 1983. He has also received three honorary doctors’ degrees.

Internationally acclaimed for his skill in organic synthesis, his work has answered questions of fundamental importance to biochemistry and life processes. He has invented fluorescent probes and dimensional probes of enzyme-coenzyme binding sites and DNA double-helical cross sections.

Among his many honors are the ACS award for Creative Work in Synthetic Organic Chemistry (1963), the Medal for Creative Research in Synthetic Organic Chemistry of the Synthetic Organic Chemical Manufacturers Association (1970), the Roger Adams Award in Organic Chemistry (1981), the first Creativity Award, University of Oregon (1994), and the first Paul G. Gassman Distinguished Service Award, Division of Organic Chemistry, American Chemical Society (1994). He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, a foreign member of the Polish Academy of Sciences, a fellow and past vice-president of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, a member of the American Philosophical Society, and an honorary member of the Pharmaceutical Society of Japan.

Professor Leonard was a Faculty Associate in Chemistry at the California Institute of Technology.

At the time of his retirement in 1986, Professor Leonard had been at the University of Illinois for 44 years, directed 120 graduate students, and published over 400 papers.

Nelson Leonard obituary