Seaborg, Glenn Theodore

Seaborg, Glenn Theodore sēˈbôrg [key], 1912–99, American chemist, b. Ishpeming, Mich., grad. Univ. of California at Los Angeles, 1934, Ph.D. Univ. of California at Berkeley, 1937. In 1939, he began teaching at Berkeley, where he became professor of chemistry (1945) and chancellor of the university (1958). During World War II, he was associated with the Univ. of Chicago, where he worked on the development of the atomic bomb. After the war, Seaborg was named head of the nuclear chemistry division of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, later becoming director and then director emeritus of the laboratory. He served as chairman of the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission from 1961 to 1971.

Seaborg codiscovered the elements plutonium (and its isotope Pu-239), americium, curium, berkelium, californium, einsteinium, fermium, mendelevium, and nobelium. For discoveries concerning the chemistry of transuranium elements, he shared with Edwin M. McMillan the 1951 Nobel Prize in Chemistry. For his discoveries of the transuranium elements and for his “leadership in the development of nuclear chemistry and atomic energy,” Seaborg received the 1959 Enrico Fermi award. In 1997, the element with the atomic number 106 was named seaborgium in his honor, marking the first time an element was named for a living person. His writings include Nuclear Properties of the Heavy Elements (1964), Nuclear Milestones (1972), The Elements Beyond Uranium (1990), A Chemist in the White House: From the Manhattan Project to the End of the Cold War (1998), and The Transuranium People: The Inside Story (1999).

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