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Carnegie Mellon University


The Department of Chemistry at Carnegie Mellon University has established the biennial John A. Pople Lectures in Theoretical and Computational Chemistry to honor the memory of the late Nobel Laureate.

Pople, the former J.C. Warner Professor of the Natural Sciences, was affiliated with the Mellon Institute for more than 30 years. During this time, his work was integral to launching computational quantum chemistry, especially ab initio electronic structure methods, as a powerful and now pervasive means for predicting and interpreting the structure and properties of molecules. For these contributions, he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1998 along with the University of California, Santa Barbara’s Walter Kohn.

Born in the small town of Burnham-on-Sea, England in 1925, Pople was the first in his family to enter college. He received his Ph.D. in mathematics from Cambridge University in 1948. In 1962, after spending a year at the Carnegie Institute of Technology and the Mellon Institute, he decided to devote his career to chemical research. He rejoined the Pittsburgh institutions in 1964, pursuing his seminal work in computational chemistry. In 1986, he moved to Northwestern University while continuing in his research and educational activities at Carnegie Mellon until his retirement in 1993.

In addition to the Nobel, Pople received the 1992 Wolf Prize; the American Chemical Society’s 1998 Award in Theoretical Chemistry; and the 2002 Copley Medal from the Royal Society.

Pople passed away on March 15, 2004. His daughter Hilary and sons Adrian, Mark and Andrew very generously donated his Nobel Medal to Carnegie Mellon in 2009.

Family of Nobel Laureate John A. Pople To Present Nobel Medal To Carnegie Mellon at Inaugural John A. Pople Lectures (Carnegie Mellon press release, September 29, 2009)