Awards & Winners

Edgar Bright Wilson

Date of Birth 18-December-1908
Place of Birth Gallatin
(Sumner County, Tennessee)
Nationality United States of America
Also know as E. Bright Wilson
Profession Chemist
Edgar Bright Wilson, Jr. was an American chemist. He was born on December 18, 1908 in Gallatin, Tennessee, and died in 1992 in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Wilson was a prominent and accomplished chemist and teacher, recipient of the National Medal of Science in 1975, Guggenheim Fellowships in 1949 and 1970, the Elliott Cresson Medal in 1982, and a number of honorary doctorates. He was also the Theodore William Richards Professor of Chemistry, Emeritus at Harvard University. One of his sons, Kenneth G. Wilson, was awarded the Nobel Prize in physics in 1982. E. B. Wilson was a student and protégé of Nobel Laureate Linus Pauling and was a coauthor with Pauling of Introduction to Quantum Mechanics, a graduate level textbook in Quantum Mechanics. Wilson was also the thesis advisor of Nobel Laureate Dudley Herschbach. Wilson was elected to the first class of the Harvard Society of Fellows. Wilson made major contributions to the field of molecular spectroscopy. He developed the first rigorous quantum mechanical Hamiltonian in internal coordinates for a polyatomic molecule. He developed the theory of how rotational spectra are influenced by centrifugal distortion during rotation. He pioneered the use of group theory for the analysis and simplification normal mode analysis, particularly for high symmetry molecules, such as benzene. In 1955, with J.C. Decius and Paul C. Cross, Wilson published Molecular Vibrations, still the primary reference text for the theoretical analysis of vibrational spectroscopy, including the GF matrix method that Wilson had developed. Following the second world war, Wilson was a pioneer in the application of microwave spectroscopy to the determination of molecular structure. Wilson wrote an influential introductory text Introduction to Scientific Research that provided an introduction of all the steps of scientific research, from defining a problem through the archival of data after publication.

Awards by Edgar Bright Wilson

Check all the awards nominated and won by Edgar Bright Wilson.


National Medal of Science for Physical Science
(In recognition of his fundamental theoretical and experimental contribution to our understanding of the structure of molecules.)


Rumford Prize
(For his early recognition of the importance of symmetry properties in polyatomic molecules and for his active and pioneering development of microwave spectroscopy.)