Professor Rudolph Marcus of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena has been named the 1992 Nobel Prize winner in chemistry.
The Canadian-born Marcus was apparently attending a meeting in Toronto and could not be immediately reached by his office. However, he was lauded by colleagues as a “brilliant theorist and a very nice man.” Professor Samuel Epstein, a colleague and friend for four decades, described Marcus as “very Jewish,” though more in the cultural than religious sense.
Irving Bengelsdorf, a science writer and expert on Nobel laureates, said he believes another of this year’s American Nobel Prize winners, Edmond Fischer in medicine, is also Jewish.
The Shanghai-born, University of Washington scientist was recognized with his colleague Edwin Krebs for discoveries leading to a broad understanding of how the body regulates cellular activity.
In recognizing the 69-year-old Marcus on Wednesday for the $1.2 million chemistry prize, the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences cited his “contribution to the theory of electron transfer reactions in chemical systems.”
It praised Marcus for finding “simple mathematical expressions for how the energy of a molecular system is affected by changes in the structure of reacting molecules and their nearest neighbors.”
Marcus was awarded Israel’s prestigious Wolf Prize two years ago and is widely known in the Israeli scientific community, said Professor Harry Gray, another colleague. “I think the Israelis saw what was coming by giving him the Wolf Prize,” he said.
Gray said Marcus’ research is likely to lead to new developments in energy storage and conversion, particularly in building more advanced fuel cells and solar energy devices.