Dr. Herbert A. Hauptman '33
Herbert A. Hauptman (born February 14, 1917) is an American mathematician and Nobel laureate. He pioneered and developed a mathematical method that has changed the whole field of chemistry and opened a new era in research in determination of molecular structures of crystallized materials. Today, Hauptman's direct methods, which he has continued to improve and refine, are routinely used to solve complicated structures. It was the application of this mathematical method to a wide variety of chemical structures that led the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences to name Dr. Hauptman and Jerome Karle recipients of the 1985 Nobel Prize in Chemistry.
He was born in New York City. He was interested in science and mathematics from an early age which he pursued at Townsend Harris High School, where he graduated in 1933. He then graduated from the City College of New York (1937) and obtained an M.A. degree in mathematics from Columbia University in 1939.
After World War II, he started a collaboration with Jerome Karle at the Naval Research Laboratory in Washington, D.C. and at the same time enrolled in the Ph.D. program at the University of Maryland, College Park. This combination of mathematics and physical chemistry expertise enabled them to tackle head-on the phase problem of X-ray crystallography. By 1955 he had received his Ph.D. in mathematics, and they had laid the foundations of the direct methods in X-ray crystallography. Their 1953 monograph, "Solution of the Phase Problem I. The Centrosymmetric Crystal", contained the main ideas, the most important of which was the introduction of probabilistic methods.
In 1970 he joined the crystallographic group of the Medical Foundation of Buffalo of which he was Research Director in 1972. During the early years of this period he formulated the neighborhood principle and extension concept. These theories were further developed during the following decades.
Dr. Hauptman has authored over 170 publications, including journal articles, research papers, chapters and books. In 1970, Hauptman joined the crystallographic group of the Hauptman-Woodward Medical Research Institute (formerly the Medical Foundation of Buffalo) of which he became Research Director in 1972. He served as President of the Hauptman-Woodward Medical Research Institute as well as Research Professor in the Department of Biophysical Sciences and Adjunct Professor in the Department of Computer Science at the University at Buffalo. Prior to joining the University at Buffalo, he worked as a mathematician and supervisor in various departments at the Naval Research Laboratory from 1947.