William Klemperer, Erving Professor of Chemistry Emeritus at Harvard University, died November 5 at the age of 90. Bill was a physical chemists with a primary expertise in molecular spectroscopy.
He was born in New York City. Upon graduation from New Rochelle High School in 1944 he joined the U.S.
Navy Air Corps. In 1946 he entered Harvard and majored in Chemistry. At Harvard he met and married his wife, Elizabeth Cole, a Radcliffe student.
Upon receiving his A. B. in 1950, Bill and Elizabeth headed to the University of California, Berkeley where he received his Ph.D. in Physical Chemistry under the direction of George Pimentel. After a semester as an instructor at Berkeley he returned to Harvard as an instructor in July 1954. He moved rapidly up the academic ladder and became a full professor in 1965. Over his career he mentored 67 Ph.D. students, 34 postdoctoral fellows and many undergraduates. He became an emeritus professor in 2002.
From 1979-1981 he served as an Assistant Director for the Mathematical and Physical Sciences. He also served as an advisor to NASA and as a consultant to assess experiments related to stratospheric ozone depletion. He received major awards from the American Chemical Society, the American Physical Society and the Royal Chemistry Society.
From the American Chemical Society he received the Irving Langmuir Award (1980), the Peter Debye Award
in Physical Chemistry (1994) and the E. Bright Wilson Award in Spectroscopy (2001). He received the Earle K. Plyler Prize for Molecular Spectroscopy from the American Physical Society (1983) and the Faraday Medal and Lectureship from the Royal Society of Chemistry (1995).
Bill was elected a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (1963) and the National Academy of Sciences (1969).
Bill is survived by his wife and his children, Joyce, Paul, and Wendy.