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Richard R. Ernst

Richard R. ErnstAKA Richard Robert Ernst

Born: 14-Aug-1933
Birthplace: Winterthur, Switzerland

Gender: Male
Race or Ethnicity: White
Sexual orientation: Straight
Occupation: Chemist

Nationality: Switzerland
Executive summary: NMR spectroscopy

Military service: Swiss Army (1956-57, to First Lieutenant)

Swiss chemist Richard R. Ernst discovered a relative's abandoned chemistry set when he was a boy, and conducted experiments in his home laboratory through his high school years, with occasional accidents and explosions. He earned his doctorate and spent the bulk of his career at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zürich, and is known for making improvements to the technology and sensitivity of nuclear spectroscopy, pertinent to both nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Ernst showed that under some circumstances, atomic nuclei can be forced out of their ordinary alignment when subjected to certain radio frequencies in short, intense pulses. His work, conducted while employed at Varian Associates in the 1960s, allowed far more detailed and precise analysis of molecular structures, and earned Ernst the 1991 Nobel Prize for Chemistry.

Father: Robert Ernst (architect, b. 1895, d. 1955)
Mother: Irma Ernst-Brunner (b. 1909, d. 2006)
Wife: Magdalena (m. 1963, two daughters, one son)
Daughter: Anna Magdalena (teacher, b. 1964)
Daughter: Katharina Elisabeth (teacher, b. 1967)
Son: Hans-Martin Walter (b. 1972)

    High School: Winterthur High School, Winterthur, Switzerland
    University: BS Chemistry, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Zürich (1957)
    University: PhD Physical Chemistry, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Zürich (1962)
    Scholar: Chemistry, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Zürich (1962-63)
    Lecturer: Physical Chemistry, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Zürich (1968-70)
    Teacher: Physical Chemistry, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Zürich (1970-76)
    Professor: Chemistry, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Zürich (1976-2001)

    Varian Research chemist (1963-68)
    Leopold Ruzicka Prize 1969
    SMRM Gold Medal 1983
    Marcel Benoist Award 1986
    ACS John Gamble Kirkwood Medal 1989
    AMPERE Prize 1990
    Louisa Gross Horwitz Prize 1991
    Nobel Prize for Chemistry 1991
    Wolf Prize in Chemistry 1991 (with Alexander Pines)
    SSR H. R. Schinz Medal 1995
    Applied Magnetic Resonance Editorial Board (1989-)
    Chemical Physics Letters Editorial Board (1985-2005)
    Journal of Biomolecular NMR Editorial Board (1991-)
    Journal of Magnetic Resonance Editorial Board (1974-)
    Magnetic Resonance Imaging Editorial Board (1982-)
    Magnetic Resonance in Medicine Editorial Board (1984-)
    Molecular Physics Editorial Board (1983-2003)
    Solid State Magnetic Resonance Editorial Board (1991-)
    Academia Europaea 1988
    American Academy of Arts and Sciences Foreign Member, 1996
    American Physical Society Foreign Member, 1962
    American Society of Neuroradiology Foreign Member, 1994
    Atomes et Molécules Par Études Radio-Électriques
    Bangladesh Academy of Sciences Foreign Member, 2005
    German Academy of Sciences Leopoldina Foreign Member, 1988
    Indian National Science Academy Foreign Member, 1990
    Institute of Medicine 2003
    International Council on Magnetic Resonance in Biological Systems 1974
    International Society for Magnetic Resonance in Medicine 1984
    Islamic Academy of Sciences 2006
    Korean Academy of Science and Technology Foreign Member, 1995
    National Academy of Sciences Foreign Associate, 1991
    Russian Academy of Sciences Foreign Member, 1999
    Royal Society Foreign Member, 1993
    Swiss Chemical Society 1985
    Swiss Research Council Board of Directors, 1998-
    Swiss Society of Radiology
    Nervous Breakdown
    Swiss Ancestry

Official Website:

Author of books:
Principles of nuclear magnetic resonance in one and two dimensions (1986, with Geoffrey Bodenhausen, Alexander Wokaun)
Structural Identification of Organic Compounds with Spectroscopic Techniques (2005, with Yong-Cheng Ning)

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