Among the most impactful scientists of the 20th century and the only person to receive two unshared Nobel Prizes, Linus Carl Pauling is credited with helping to establish the fields of quantum chemistry and molecular biology. Professor Pauling’s more than 1,200 books and papers deal with wide-ranging topics in chemical bonding, crystal structure, macromolecular “lock and key” complementarity, medicine and health, and humanism, war and peace. He received the 1962 Nobel Prize in Chemistry "for his research into the nature of the chemical bond and its application to the elucidation of the structure of complex substances." His advocacy for nuclear arms control and disarmament led the Nobel Foundation to award him the 1954 Peace Prize.
Professor Pauling was born in Portland, Oregon in 1901. He earned his bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from Oregon State University (BS), where he was introduced to quantum mechanics. He completed doctoral work in physical chemistry and mathematical physics at the California Institute of Technology (PhD summa cum laude 1925), working in x-ray crystallography with Roscoe Dickinson and Richard Tolman. In 1926, he explored his interest in applying the then-new field of quantum mechanics to understand the electron structure of atoms and molecules through a Guggenheim Fellowship to study under German physicist Arnold Sommerfeld in Munich, Danish physicist Niels Bohr in Copenhagen, and Austrian physicist Erwin Schrödinger in Zürich. Professor Pauling joined the faculty of Caltech as assistant professor in 1927, rising to associate professor in 1929 and full professor in 1931. In 1967, he moved to the University of California, San Diego, before joining the Stanford faculty as professor of chemistry in 1969, moving in 1974 to the Pauling Institute of Science and Medicine in Palo Alto.