Born in Switzerland, Nef came to this country at an early age and for most of his academic career was professor at the University of Chicago. He had a non-traditional way of looking at and rationalizing the facts of organic chemistry. He studied tautomerism, especially of nitroparaffins, and discovered what is now called the "Nef reaction"; the acid-catalyzed conversion of primary and secondary nitroalkanes to aldehydes and ketones, respectively. His major research was on bivalent carbon, including isonitriles, carbon monoxide, fulminates and methylene. In later years, he studied the complex reactions of sugars in alkali and acid.
Location in chemistry building:
First Floor; Room 138 South Wall; Sequence 4