Willard F. Libby
By: Marissa Garceau, Emily Wilkerson and Maryam Kumerow
Out of College
Right out of college, Libby was appointed as an instructor in the Department of Chemistry at California University (Berkeley) in 1933. During the next 10 years, he was eventually promoted to Associate Professor of Chemistry.
World War II
In 1941, Libby was awarded a Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship in 1941. He was elected to work at Princeton University, but on December 8, 1941, it was interrupted due to America entering the war. He then went to Columbia University on the Manhattan District Project on leave from the Department of Chemistry, California University, until 1945.
After the War
Once the war was over, Libby accepted the role of being Professor of Chemistry in the Department of Chemistry and Institute for Nuclear Studies of University of Chicago. He stayed at this job until October 1, 1954, when Willard was appointed by President Eisenhower as a member of the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission. This term was renewed for a 5 year contract on June 19, 1956. Libby would then resign on June 30, 1959 to become the Professor of Chemistry in the University of California at LA. On January 1, 1962, he was then appointed as Director of the Institute of Geophysics and Planetary Physics.
Awards, Committees and Memberships
From 1945 to 1952, Willard was a Member of the Committee of Senior Reviewers of the Atomic Energy Commission. He was a Member of the Plowshare Advisory Committee since 1959 and was a Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellow in 1941, 1951, and from 1959-1962. He was also apart of various other committees throughout his lifetime. Among many awards, he won the most important award, the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1960 for his work with carbon dating.
In 1952, Libby published a book called Radiocarbon Dating in the University of Chicago press. He published a second edition of the book in 1955.
Type of Chemist
Willard Libby was a Physical Chemist and a specialist in radiochemistry, particularly hot atom chemistry, tracer techniques and isotope work.