Nobel Laureate Recipient
Class of 2011
Nobel Prize in Chemistry, 1934
Harold Clayton Urey (1893 - 1981) was born in Walkerton, Ind. and was the son of Rev. Samuel Urey and Cora Rebecca Reinoehl. He experienced an early exposure to religion and had a strict upbringing. Harold overcame his lack of exposure to physical chemistry by pursuing his boyhood interest in animals while exploring the flora and fauna around his home. He was educated in rural schools and after graduating from high school, taught in country schools. He earned his Ph.D. in chemistry in 1923 from the University of California at Berkley.
His important contributions were completed when he worked at Columbia University. Among his accomplishments was the discovery of deuterium which he isolated by distilling liquid hydrogen. This discovery enabled him to win the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1934. Professor Urey served as the Director of War Research, Atomic Bomb Project, at Columbia University from 1940 to 1945. His demonstration of the existence of "heavy water," combined with Columbia University's team discovery of the gaseous diffusion method to separate uranium-235 and uranium-238 contributed significantly to the development of the atomic bomb. Professor Urey stands out among Niels Bohr, Robert Oppenheimer and a few others who achieved this milestone. Professor Urey died in LaJolla, Calif. at the age of 87.
Nobel Prize recipients were nominated by James Flannery and Steve Dunphy, Ph.D.