About Our Founder – Richard E. Smalley
Richard Errett Smalley was a
University Professor and the Gene and Norman Hackerman Chair of Chemistry at
Rice University. In 1996, he along with
Professors Robert Curl and Harold Kroto was awarded the Nobel Prize in
Chemistry for their 1985 discovery of the buckminsterfullerene.
Smalley, the youngest of 4
siblings, was born on June 6, 1943, in Akron, OH, to Esther Virginia Rhoads and Frank Dudley Smalley,
Jr. He attended Hope College before
transferring to the University of Michigan where he received his BS in
Chemistry in 1965. Since the job-market
was booming, Smalley opted for the work-force and accepted a position with
Shell Oil Company. In 1969, Smalley
returned to his studies at Princeton University. He worked under Elliot R. Bernstein and
received his PhD in Chemistry in 1973.
Smalley immediately followed up his graduate work with a post-doctoral
position with Donald H. Levy and Lennard Wharton at the University of
Chicago. In 1976, Smalley moved to Houston,
TX, to begin an assistant professorship in the Department of Chemistry. In 1985, while investigating the constituents
of astronomic dark matter, Smalley, Curl, Kroto, and their students discovered
the third allotrope of carbon - C60.
After the discovery of the buckyball, Smalley’s research focus turned to
carbon nanotubes and the application of their extraordinary properties. Later in his career, Smalley became very
passionate about energy and education.
He believed that by making affordable, clean energy available to all
many of humanity’s other pressing problems like poverty and food supply would
be much easier to solve. Smalley spent
time not only researching paths to abundant, clean energy he also devoted time
to educating politicians and world leaders on the need for and a solution to
the energy problem. Smalley believed
strongly that one critical aspect to solving the issue of energy was educating
the next generation of scientists. He
often encouraged young students to consider careers in science and engineering
under the slogan “Be a scientist, save the world.”
On October 28, 2005, Smalley lost a 6-year battle with chronic lymphocytic
leukemia. He was 62 years old.
The Richard E. Smalley Institute for Nanoscale Science and Technology continues
to champion the efforts of Smalley through research, educational and community
programs, corporate partnerships, and government relations. We invite you to learn more about Richard E.
Smalley and his legacy through the links provided below.
Publications and Presentations