Perspectives

John D. Roberts (1918–2016)

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Science  16 Dec 2016:
Vol. 354, Issue 6318, pp. 1382
DOI: 10.1126/science.aal4869

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Summary

John D. (“Jack”) Roberts, Professor of Chemistry, Emeritus, at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech), died on 29 October at the age of 98. Roberts led organic chemistry's transition from a field that studied what reactions did to one that also studied how reactions happened. He was an explorer with boundless curiosity who was untiring in his efforts to bring new and useful ideas, tools, and experimental designs to chemistry. He thrived on convincing chemists that his opinions on both science and scientific standards were correct (or at least worth arguing about, usually strenuously). He was not the only parent of physical-organic chemistry, but he was its best teacher.