1923-

Rudolph Arthur Marcus

Location: Basement Floor, Elevator area, East Wall, Sequence 6

Source: Professor Marcus


Marcus is a theoretical physical chemist who received the 1992 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for "his contributions to the theory of electron-transfer reactions in chemical systems".

Born in Montreal, Canada, Marcus took his undergraduate (1943) and Ph.D. (1946) degrees at McGill University and continued experimental work at the National Research Council in Ottawa (1946-49). He soon realized, however, that his strongest interest lay in chemical theory, and postdoctoral study with O. K. Rice at the University of North Carolina became a turning point in his career. There he examined the Rice-Ramsperger-Kassel (RRK) theory of unimolecular reactions, and reformulated it to the extent that it soon became known as the RRKM theory. At the Polytechnic Institute of Brooklyn (1951-64) Marcus published on the thermodynamic properties of polyelectrolytes and on his ground breaking studies on the theory of oxidation-reduction reactions involving electron transfer. A faculty position at the University of Illinois followed (1964-78). He then moved to the California Institute of Technology as Arthur Amos Noyes Professor of Chemistry. There he investigated the effect of solvent in slowing down electron transfers, electron transfer across organic bridges of varying length, electron transfer across monolayers, long range electron transfer in proteins as well as problems on intramolecular dynamics and unimolecular reactions.

Numerous awards followed, among them the Langmuir (1978) and Debye (1988) awards of the ACS, the 1988 Willard Gibbs, 1990 T. W. Richards and 1991 Pauling medals, the Wolf Prize in Chemistry (1985) and the National Medal of Science (1989).