John Ulric Nef (chemist)

John Ulric Nef (Johann Ulrich Nef; June 14, 1862 – August 13, 1915) was a Swiss-born American chemist and the discoverer of the Nef reaction and Nef synthesis.[1] He was a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the National Academy of Sciences.[1]

John Ulric Nef
Born(1862-06-14)June 14, 1862
DiedAugust 13, 1915(1915-08-13) (aged 53)
Alma materHarvard University,
University of Munich
Known forNef reaction
Scientific career
InstitutionsPurdue University (1887–89)
Clark University (1889–92)
University of Chicago (1892–1915)
Doctoral advisorAdolf von Baeyer


His parents emigrated from Switzerland to the United States, where Nef studied chemistry at Harvard University until 1884. Upon graduation, he joined Adolf von Baeyer at the University of Munich where he received his Ph.D. in 1887.[2]

He was a Professor at Purdue University from 1887 till 1889 and at Clark University from 1889 till 1892. In 1892 Nef joined the newly formed University of Chicago as Professor of Chemistry, where he spent the rest of his academic career.[2][1]

His son John Ulric Nef (1899–1988) became a Professor of Economic History and published several books.[2][1]


The discovery of the Nef reaction and the papers about divalent carbon (carbenes) were his major achievements.[2][1]


  1. ^ a b c d e Wolfrom, Melville L. (1960). "John Ulric Nef: 1862—1915". Biographical Memoirs (PDF) (1st ed.). Washington, DC: National Academy of Sciences. pp. 216–218. Retrieved 24 February 2016. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  2. ^ a b c d Molella, Arthur P. (1990). "John U. Nef (1899-1988)". Technology and Culture. 31 (4): 916–920. JSTOR 3105944.

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