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Rudolph Marcus (BBHS ’40)

Born: 1923, Montreal, Quebec

Marcus is best known for receiving the 1992 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his contributions to the theory, named after him, of electron transfer reactions in chemical systems.

Marcus was an only child of Esther and Myer. He attended BBHS in the late 30s and he wrote that “his education at BBHS was excellent, with dedicated masters”. It was during his studies at Baron Byng that Marcus developed his interests in the sciences.

Marcus went on to study chemistry at McGill University, earning his B.S.C. in 1943 and a Ph.D. in 1946. After leaving McGill he spent two and a half years as a post-doctoral researcher in experimental physical chemistry at the National Research Council of Canada in Ottawa and then a similar period as a post-doctoral researcher in theoretical chemistry at the University of North Carolina, explaining why his theoretical contributions, including those which led to the Nobel Prize, have been so focused on trying to understand novel experimental results. He later  went on to the Polytechnic Institute of Brooklyn, the University of Illinois and the California Institute of Technology. In 1958 he became a naturalized citizen of the United States. He currently is a professor at Caltech and Nanyang Technological University, Singapore, and has published over 400 books and articles.

Apart from his extensive international teaching positions, Marcus has received numerous honorary doctorates from the University of Chicago in 1983, the University of Goteborg in 1986, the Polytechnic Institute of Brooklyn in 1987, McGill in 1988, Queen’s University in 1993, the University of New Brunswick also in 1993, and the University of Hyderabad, in India, which conferred the degree of Doctor of Science in 2012.

In addition to the Nobel Prize in 1992, he received many other prestigious awards, including the Robinson Medal of the Royal Society of Chemistry and the Wolfe prize in 1985, the US National Medal of Science in 1989, the Ohio State’s William Lloyd Evans Award in 1990 and the Remsen and Edgar Fahs Smith Awards in 1991.

Marcus also received a Professorial Fellowship at University College, Oxford (1975 to 1976) and a Visiting Professorship in Theoretical Chemistry at Oxford during that period. A commemorative issue of the Journal of Physical Chemistry was published in 1986.

In his video interview listen Rudolph Marcus recollect his days at BBHS and  growing up in Montreal.


Rudolph A. Marcus, Biographical,
Rudolph A. Marcus, Caltech