Organic chemist and lifelong athlete Harry Stone Mosher conducted research into the chemistry of natural products and stereochemistry, producing more than 140 papers and the reference book Asymmetric Organic Reactions (1971). He may be best remembered for determining the unusually complex structure of tetrodotoxin, a potent neurotoxin found in both puffer fish and the wild newts of Stanford's Lake Lagunita. Described as a modest, rigorous researcher, Professor Mosher also put a high value on teaching and mentorship, conducting courses in undergraduate and graduate organic chemistry. One of Professor Mosher’s early doctoral students endowed the Harry S. Mosher Professorship in Chemistry at Stanford. Professor Mosher and his wife, also an accomplished chemist, were the first recipients of the Harry and Carol Mosher Award, created by the Santa Clara section of the American Chemical Society in their honor.
Professor Mosher was born in Salem, Oregon in 1915. He completed his undergraduate studies in chemistry at Willamette University (AB 1937) and master’s work at Oregon State University (MS 1938). He performed doctoral research under Professor F. C. Whitemore at Pennsylvania State College (MS, PhD 1942). He spent four years during World War II as associate professor at Penn. State, leading research on synthetic anti-malarial drugs for the National Research Council, and investigating the production of DDT with the War Production Board. He took a position as assistant professor in chemistry at Stanford in 1946. He was promoted to associate professor in 1950, and full professor of chemistry in 1955, through his retirement to emeritus status in 1981.