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Conant, James Bryant

Conant, James Bryant kō´nənt [key], 1893–1978, American educator, chemist, and diplomat, b. Dorchester, Mass., grad. Harvard (B.A., 1913; Ph.D., 1916). Except for a brief period in the army (1917–19), Conant taught chemistry at Harvard from 1916 until 1933, when he became president of Harvard (1933–53). As chairman (1941–46) of the National Defense Research Committee, he played a significant role in the development of the atomic bomb, and after World War II he was an adviser to the National Science Foundation and the Atomic Energy Commission. In 1953 he was appointed U.S. High Commissioner for Germany and later served as ambassador to West Germany (1955–57). He directed a number of extensive investigations of American education and published widely in the field. Conant's writings include Education in a Divided World (1948), Modern Science and Modern Man (1952), Education and Liberty (1953), Slums and Suburbs (1961), The Comprehensive High School (1967), and Scientific Principles and Moral Conduct (1967).

See his autobiography (1970); biographies by J. Hershberg (1991) and J. Conant, his granddaughter (2017).

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