Kurt Mislow

Location: Fifth Floor, West Wing, South Wall, Sequence 6

Source: Professor Mislow

Sponsor: James Geiger

Mislow is the premier stereochemical theorist and experimentalist of the second half of the 20th century, whose work has helped define modern stereochemistry. His textbook "Introduction to Stereochemistry" (1965) was built around the theme that the major principles of stereochemistry rest on considerations of symmetry and group theory. It introduced into chemistry the concept of topicity (enantio-, diastereo-, chiro-). Among his "firsts" are a general method for determining enantiomeric ratios by NMR spectroscopy, a general method for establishing the absolute configuration of optically active biaryls, the synthesis of a chemically achiral compound composed exclusively of asymmetric conformations, and the demonstration that conformational interconversion rates are affected by steric isotope effects. He designed novel types of stereoisomers among molecular propellers and molecular gears based on an analysis of ring-flipping and internal gearing motions. He published well over 300 papers, mainly in the area of stereochemistry.

Mislow was born in Berlin, Germany. He attended Tulane University (B.S. 1944) and obtained the Ph.D. degree with Linus Pauling at Cal Tech (1947). He then joined the New York University faculty, and in 1964 was appointed the first Hugh Stott Taylor Professor of Chemistry at Princeton University (1964). He became Professor Emeritus there in 1988. Among his many awards were Sloan and Guggenheim fellowships, the ACS James Flack Norris Award in Physical Organic Chemistry (1975), the William H. Nichols Medal (1987), and the Arthur C. Cope Scholar Award (1995). He was the first recipient of the Prelog Medal (1986) and the Chirality Medal (1993).