The Physicist

Gerhard Herzberg (1904-1999) completed his undergraduate and graduate studies in engineering physics in Germany. Herzberg then went on to become the Post Doctoral Fellow in the Department of Physical Sciences and Mathematics at the University of Gottingen. Herzberg and his wife left Germany for Canada, to teach at the University of Saskatchewan, and then on to the University of Chicago.

In 1948, Herzberg returned to Canada and went to work in the Physics division at the National Research Council. It was at the NRC that Herzberg did his most important work, developing the NRC’s spectroscopy laboratory, now recognized as one of the greatest research establishments in the world.

After his retirement in 1969, the NRC council named Herzberg its first Distinguished Research Scientist. In 1971, Herzberg won the Nobel Prize for Chemistry for his work with electronic and geometric structure of molecules. It was during this time that Herzberg became involved with Carleton University as a visiting professor of Physics, and then in 1973, Herzberg was appointed Chancellor of the University.

If you think that when I started in this field, no one had seen a molecule in space, and now we can see them everyday. That by itself is quite a revelation.