A beloved mentor and educator, Henry Taube received the 1983 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his contributions to the understanding of electron transfer in chemical reactions. Throughout his life, he pursued an interest in oxidation-reduction reactions and their importance in both biological and non-biological processes, while conducting pioneering studies in coordination chemistry and photochemistry. The citation for the 1983 Nobel Prize in Chemistry concludes, “There is no question that Henry Taube has been one of the most creative research workers of our age in the field of coordination chemistry throughout its extent.” His students and colleagues describe him as personable and engaging, bringing fun and challenge into the laboratory, and equally comfortable discussing chemistry, gardening, opera or sports.
Born in Neudorf, Saskatchewan in 1915, Professor Taube studied at the University of Saskatchewan (BS 1935, MS). He completed doctoral studies in chemistry under W.C. Bray at the University of California, Berkeley (PhD 1940), where he remained as instructor for one year after graduation. In 1941, he joined the faculty of Cornell University as assistant professor. In 1946, he moved to the University of Chicago, rising to full professor in 1952. He was recruited to Stanford as full professor in 1962. He served as Chemistry Department chairman twice, in 1972–74 and 1978–79. He retired to emeritus status in 1986, though he continued his experimental work at the university for most of his life.