Robert Burns Woodward
Born: 10 April 1917, Boston, MA, USA
Died: 8 July 1979, Cambridge, MA, USA
Affiliation at the time of the award: Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, USA
Prize motivation: "for his outstanding achievements in the art of organic synthesis"
Field: natural products chemistry, organic chemistry
Prize share: 1/1
Nature is full of organic substances - a large and highly diverse array of chemical compounds that contain the basic element carbon. Building, or synthesizing, organic substances using chemical methods is important in both scientific and industrial contexts. Synthesis often entails complicated, multistep processes. Robert Woodward mastered these processes and, in the 1950s and 1960s, successfully synthesized a large number of substances: quinine, cholesterol, cortisone, several antibiotic substances, and chlorophyll, the substance that gives leaves their green color.