Harden Marsden McConnell, the Robert Eckles Swain Professor Emeritus of Chemistry, died at his home on Wednesday, October 8, 2014 after a long illness, he was 87. McConnell received his bachelor’s degree in 1947 from George Washington University and his Ph.D. from the California Institute of Technology in 1951. After a 2-year postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Chicago, he moved to Shell Development Company in Emeryville where he initiated fundamental studies of NMR spectra and spectral line shapes. Following this, he moved to Caltech in 1956 where he flourished prior to his move to Stanford in 1964.
McConnell was one of the leading physical and biophysical chemists of the last half-century, contributing pioneering approaches and incisive results in diverse areas ranging from fundamental studies of the electronic structure and dynamics of molecules, largely using magnetic resonance methods, to membrane biophysics and immunology. He was an individual of towering intellect and rigor, training many successful scientists and greatly influencing a generation of physical scientists who were interested in biological problems.
McConnell was widely recognized for his achievements with awards at the highest level including the Wolf Prize (1984), the National Medal of Science (1989), and the Welch Award in Chemistry (2002), among many others. During the last year, he assembled a remarkable personal history that summarizes key turning points in his scientific career; this can be found at: www.hardenmcconnell.org.
Harden McConnell is survived by his widow Sophia, sons Trevor and Hunter, daughter Jane, daughter-in-law, Oksana, and one granddaughter.
A special thanks to the McConnell Lectureship Steering Committee of Professors Alvin Kwiram, Hayes Griffith and Steve Boxer for their role in establishing this annual lectureship in physical chemistry.