Richard Zare

Richard Neil Zare (born November 19, 1939 in Cleveland, Ohio) is the Marguerite Blake Wilbur Professor in Natural Science and a Professor of Chemistry at Stanford University.[6] Throughout his career, Zare has made a considerable impact in physical chemistry and analytical chemistry, particularly through the development of laser-induced fluorescence (LIF) and the study of chemical reactions at the molecular and nanoscale level.[7] LIF is an extremely sensitive technique with applications ranging from analytical chemistry and molecular biology to astrophysics.[8] One of its applications was the sequencing of the human genome.[9]

Richard Zare
Richard Neil Zare

(1939-11-19) November 19, 1939
Cleveland, Ohio, United States[1]
ResidenceUnited States
Alma materHarvard University B.A (1961) Ph.D (1964)
Spouse(s)Susan Shively Zare
Scientific career
InstitutionsStanford University
ThesisMolecular fluorescence and photodissociation (1964)
Doctoral advisorDudley Herschbach[2]
Doctoral students
Other notable studentsAndrew Orr-Ewing (postdoc)[5]

Zare is known for his enthusiasm for science and his exploration of new areas of research.[2] He has mentored over 150 PhD students and postdoctoral researchers, of whom more than 49 are women or members of minorities.[6] Zare is a strong advocate for women in science,[10] and a fellow of the Association for Women in Science (AWIS) as of 2008.[2]


Zare earned his B.A. in chemistry and physics in 1961 and his Ph.D. in 1964 in physical and analytical chemistry at Harvard University. As an undergraduate he worked with William Klemperer.[2] Zare moved to the University of California, Berkeley to do Ph.D. work with Dudley Herschbach, then returned 2 years later when Herschbach accepted a position at Harvard. Zare completed his Ph.D. thesis, a theoretical analysis of Molecular fluorescence and photodissociation,[11] with Herschbach at Harvard in 1964.[2]


Zare joined Massachusetts Institute of Technology as an assistant professor in 1965. From 1966 to 1969, he was jointly appointed in the departments of chemistry, physics and astrophysics at JILA at the University of Colorado Boulder. In 1969 he became a full professor in the Department of Chemistry at Columbia University.[12][13] He was named the Higgins Professor of Natural Science at Columbia in 1975.[8]

In 1977 Zare accepted a position as a full professor of chemistry at Stanford University, becoming the Marguerite Blake Wilbur Professor in Natural Science in 1987. He served as chair of the chemistry department from 2005 to 2011.[1]

Zare served on the National Science Board (NSB) of the National Science Foundation (NSF) from 1990 to 1996, and was the board’s chair from 1994 to 1996.[2] He is a member of the editorial advisory boards of several scientific publications, among them Chemistry World, Angewandte Chemie, Central European Journal of Chemistry, Journal of Separation Sciences and the Chinese Journal of Chromatography.[14] [7] He is Chairman of the Board of Directors at Annual Reviews, Inc., and serves on the Board of Directors of The Camille and Henry Dreyfus Foundation.[8]


Zare is well known for his research in laser chemistry, particularly the development of laser-induced fluorescence, which he has used to study reaction dynamics and analytical detection methods.[2] His research on the spectroscopy of chemical compounds suggested a new mechanism for energy transference in inelastic collisions.[15][16][17] He and his students have developed tools and techniques to examine chemical reactions at the molecular and nanoscale levels. They have explored a wide-ranging variety of problems in physical chemistry and chemical analysis including examination of heterogeneous structures in mineral samples, the contents of cells and subcellular compartments, and the chemical analysis of liquid samples.[1]

Early in his career, the question of whether laser-induced fluorescence (LIF) could be used to study aflatoxins spurred Zare to adapt LIF for use on liquids. Work with postdoc Gerald Diebold resulted in the first use of LIF for detection in chemical analysis.[2][18][19] This opened up the potential for a wide variety of fluid applications,[2] including the detection of single molecules in liquids at room-temperature[20] and detection methods for capillary electrophoresis.[21] Zare and his coworkers have combined CCD imaging with LIF detection to detect amol and zeptamole amounts of FITC-labelled amino acids.[22] Zare and his students have also developed cavity ring-down spectroscopy (CRDS) for quantitative diagnosis,[23] and for high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC)[24] Zare is also involved in the development of desorption electrospray ionization (DESI) techniques, which are being used for mass spectrometric imaging of lipids, metabolites and proteins in tissue samples, including prostate cancer.[25][26][27]

“I’m right now very excited about mass spectrometry, still excited about lasers, all types of [analytical techniques], but to me, they’re tools. They’re not ends in themselves... With new tools and measurement techniques, you can make advances in all types of fundamental problems.” Richard Zare[7]

Zare has also worked with NASA and others on astrobiology.[28][29] He is one of the co-authors of a paper that appeared in Science in 1996, raising the possibility that a meteorite from Mars, ALH84001, contained traces of Martian life.[30] Zare used two-step laser mass spectrometry (L2MS), a technique that is particularly sensitive to organic molecules, to examine samples from the interior of the meteorite.[2] He found that the 4.5-billion-year-old Martian meteorite, discovered in Antarctica, contained polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. This lead researchers to speculate on the presence of fossilized remains from Mars.[30] Other researchers questioned this interpretation, suggesting that the sample might have been contaminated after its arrival on Earth. Considerable controversy resulted,[31][32] which Zare felt disrupted his ongoing laboratory research.[33] Zare has also worked with NASA on examinations of organic materials obtained from Comet 81P/Wild by the Stardust Spacecraft.[34]


Zare has published several books, including a widely used textbook on the topic of angular momentum in quantum systems that is considered a classic for its explanations of angular momentum algebra and the fundamentals of molecular spectroscopy.[2] He is an author or co-author of more than 1,000 peer-reviewed papers.[35]

Selected publications

  • Zare, RN; Fernández, FM; Kimmel, JR (3 January 2003). "Hadamard transform time-of-flight mass spectrometry: more signal, more of the time". Angewandte Chemie International Edition in English. 42 (1): 30–5. doi:10.1002/anie.200390047. PMID 19757587.
  • Wu, H.; Wheeler, A.; Zare, R. N. (24 August 2004). "Chemical cytometry on a picoliter-scale integrated microfluidic chip" (PDF). Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 101 (35): 12809–12813. Bibcode:2004PNAS..10112809W. doi:10.1073/pnas.0405299101. PMC 516477. PMID 15328405.
  • Zare, R. N. (20 March 1998). "Laser Control of Chemical Reactions" (PDF). Science. 279 (5358): 1875–1879. Bibcode:1998Sci...279.1875Z. CiteSeerX doi:10.1126/science.279.5358.1875. PMID 9506928.
  • Alexander, A. J.; Zare, R. N. (1998). "Anatomy of Elementary Chemical Reactions" (PDF). Journal of Chemical Education. 75 (9): 1105–1118. Bibcode:1998JChEd..75.1105A. doi:10.1021/ed075p1105.</ref>
  • Althorpe, Stuart C.; Fernández-Alonso, Félix; Bean, Brian D.; Ayers, James D.; Pomerantz, Andrew E.; Zare, Richard N.; Wrede, Eckart (7 March 2002). "Observation and interpretation of a time-delayed mechanism in the hydrogen exchange reaction". Nature. 416 (6876): 67–70. Bibcode:2002Natur.416...67A. doi:10.1038/416067a. PMID 11882892.


  • Hsu, Donald K.; Monts, David L.; Zare, Richard N. (1978). Spectral atlas of nitrogen dioxide, 5530 to 6480 Å. New York: Academic Press. ISBN 978-0-12-357950-8.
  • Zare, Richard N. (1988). Angular momentum : understanding spatial aspects in chemistry and physics. New York: Wiley. ISBN 978-0-471-85892-8.
  • Zare, Richard N.; Spencer, Bertrand H.; Springer, Dwight S.; Jacobson, Matthew P. (1995). Laser experiments for beginners. Sausalito, Calif.: University Science Books. ISBN 978-0-935702-36-1.
  • Zare, Richard N. (1998). Angular momentum : understanding spatial aspects in chemistry and physics. New York: Wiley. ISBN 978-0-471-24478-3.
  • Kleiman, Valeria; Park, Hongkun; Gordon, Robert J.; Zare, Richard N. (1998). Companion to Angular momentum. New York: Wiley. ISBN 978-0-471-19249-7.
  • Yeung, Edward S.; Zare, Richard N. (2008). Annual Review of Analytical Chemistry, Volume 1. Annual Reviews Inc., U.S. ISBN 9780824344016.

Awards, honors and fellowships


  1. "Dick Zare". Stanford University. Retrieved 28 March 2017.
  2. Arnaud, Celia Henry (March 22, 2010). "Bubbling With Enthusiasm". Chemical & Engineering News. 88 (12): 14–18. doi:10.1021/cen-v088n012.p014. Retrieved 28 March 2017.
  3. Cromie, William J. (May 19, 2005). "It's a small, small world for Hongkun Park". Harvard Gazette. Retrieved 28 March 2017.
  4. "News Release". Stanford News. 1991-12-05. Retrieved 28 March 2017.
  5. Orr-Ewing, A J; Zare, R N (1994). "Orientation and Alignment of Reaction Products". Annual Review of Physical Chemistry. 45 (1): 315–366. Bibcode:1994ARPC...45..315O. doi:10.1146/annurev.pc.45.100194.001531. ISSN 0066-426X.
  6. "Richard Zare - Marguerite Blake Wilbur Professor in Natural Science; Professor of Chemistry". Presidential Awards for Excellence in Science, Mathematics & Engineering Mentoring. Retrieved 28 March 2017.
  7. Mukhopadhyay, Rajendrani (November 2007). "A quest for fun" (PDF). Analytical Chemistry. 79 (21): 7945–7947. doi:10.1021/ac071983m. PMID 18044020. Retrieved 28 March 2017.
  8. "Professor Richard Zare Winner of the 2011 KFIP Prize for Science". King Faisal International Prize. Retrieved 29 March 2017.
  9. Arnaud, Celia (15 June 2009). "Zare is 2010 Priestley Medalist". Chemical & Engineering News. 87 (24): 5. doi:10.1021/cen-v087n024.p005.
  10. Zare, Richard N. (May 15, 2006). "Sex, Lies, and Title IX Federal law banning sex discrimination in schools may do as much for academics as it has for athletics". Chemical & Engineering News. 84 (20): 46–49. doi:10.1021/cen-v084n020.p046. Retrieved 28 March 2017.
  11. "Molecular fluorescence and photodissociation. Zare, Richard Neil". Harvard Library. Retrieved 28 March 2017.
  12. "About Richard N. Zare: Biosketch". Zarelab. Retrieved 28 March 2017.
  13. "Richard N. Zare, Stanford University". The Analyst. 130 (6): 798–9. 2005. Bibcode:2005Ana...130..798.. doi:10.1039/B504927J. PMID 15915266.
  14. "Richard N. Zare, Stanford University". The Analyst. 130 (6): 798–799. 2005. Bibcode:2005Ana...130..798.. doi:10.1039/b504927j. PMID 15915266. Retrieved 28 March 2017.
  15. Bergeron, Louis (July 3, 2008). "Results of research on atomic collisions fly in the face of conventional wisdom". Stanford News. Retrieved 29 March 2017.
  16. "Radicals shake up molecules in a tug o' war". (e) Science News. July 3, 2008.
  17. Greaves, Stuart J.; Wrede, Eckart; Goldberg, Noah T.; Zhang, Jianyang; Miller, Daniel J.; Zare, Richard N. (3 July 2008). "Vibrational excitation through tug-of-war inelastic collisions". Nature. 454 (7200): 88–91. Bibcode:2008Natur.454...88G. doi:10.1038/nature07079. PMID 18596807.
  18. Hieftje, Gary M.; Travis, John C.; Lytle, Fred E. (1981). Lasers in Chemical Analysis. Totowa, NJ: Humana Press. p. 277. ISBN 9781461260097.
  19. Diebold, G.; Zare, R. (24 June 1977). "Laser fluorimetry: subpicogram detection of aflatoxins using high-pressure liquid chromatography". Science. 196 (4297): 1439–1441. Bibcode:1977Sci...196.1439D. doi:10.1126/science.867038. PMID 867038.
  20. Nie, S; Chiu, DT; Zare, RN (11 November 1994). "Probing individual molecules with confocal fluorescence microscopy". Science. 266 (5187): 1018–21. Bibcode:1994Sci...266.1018N. doi:10.1126/science.7973650. PMID 7973650.
  21. Cazes, Jack (2005). Encyclopedia of chromatography (2nd ed.). Boca Raton, Florida: Taylor & Francis. p. 519. ISBN 978-0824727871. Retrieved 28 March 2017.
  22. Landers, James P. (1997). Handbook of capillary electrophoresis (2nd ed.). Boca Raton: CRC Press. p. 401. ISBN 978-0849324987.
  23. Zalicki, Piotr; Zare, Richard N. (15 February 1995). "Cavity ring‐down spectroscopy for quantitative absorption measurements". The Journal of Chemical Physics. 102 (7): 2708–2717. Bibcode:1995JChPh.102.2708Z. doi:10.1063/1.468647.
  24. Snyder, KL; Zare, RN (1 July 2003). "Cavity ring-down spectroscopy as a detector for liquid chromatography". Analytical Chemistry. 75 (13): 3086–91. doi:10.1021/ac0340152. PMID 12964755.
  25. Comi, Troy J.; Ryu, Seung Woo; Perry, Richard H. (19 January 2016). "Synchronized Desorption Electrospray Ionization Mass Spectrometry Imaging". Analytical Chemistry. 88 (2): 1169–1175. doi:10.1021/acs.analchem.5b03010. PMID 26569449.
  26. Hsu, Cheng-Chih; Chou, Pi-Tai; Zare, Richard N. (17 November 2015). "Imaging of Proteins in Tissue Samples Using Nanospray Desorption Electrospray Ionization Mass Spectrometry". Analytical Chemistry. 87 (22): 11171–11175. doi:10.1021/acs.analchem.5b03389. PMID 26509582.
  27. Banerjee, Shibdas; Zare, Richard N.; Tibshirani, Robert J.; Kunder, Christian A.; Nolley, Rosalie; Fan, Richard; Brooks, James D.; Sonn, Geoffrey A. (28 March 2017). "Diagnosis of prostate cancer by desorption electrospray ionization mass spectrometric imaging of small metabolites and lipids". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 114 (13): 3334–3339. doi:10.1073/pnas.1700677114. PMC 5380053. PMID 28292895.
  28. "Richard Zare". NASA Astrobiology Institute. Retrieved 29 March 2017.
  29. Lane, Neal F. (1996-08-08). "Introducing Dr. Richard Zare's Lecture: Life On Mars". National Science Foundation (US).
  30. McKay, D. S.; Gibson, E. K.; Thomas-Keprta, K. L.; Vali, H.; Romanek, C. S.; Clemett, S. J.; Chillier, X. D. F.; Maechling, C. R.; Zare, R. N.; et al. (1996). "Search for past life on Mars: Possible relic biogenic activity in Martian meteorite ALH84001". Science. 273 (5277): 924–930. Bibcode:1996Sci...273..924M. doi:10.1126/science.273.5277.924. PMID 8688069.
  31. Markley, Robert (2005). Dying planet : Mars in science and the imagination. Durham: Duke University Press. pp. 325–326. ISBN 978-0822336389.
  32. Foust, Jeff (November 20, 2006). "Review: The Rock from Mars". The Space Review.
  33. Sawyer, Kathy (2006). The rock from Mars : a detective story on two planets (1st ed.). New York: Random House. ISBN 978-1-4000-6010-8.
  34. Sandford, S. A.; Aleon, J.; Alexander, C. M. OD.; Araki, T.; Bajt, S.; Baratta, G. A.; Borg, J.; Bradley, J. P.; Brownlee, D. E.; Brucato, J. R.; Burchell, M. J.; Busemann, H.; Butterworth, A.; Clemett, S. J.; Cody, G.; Colangeli, L.; Cooper, G.; D'Hendecourt, L.; Djouadi, Z.; Dworkin, J. P.; Ferrini, G.; Fleckenstein, H.; Flynn, G. J.; Franchi, I. A.; Fries, M.; Gilles, M. K.; Glavin, D. P.; Gounelle, M.; Grossemy, F.; Jacobsen, C.; Keller, L. P.; Kilcoyne, A. L. D.; Leitner, J.; Matrajt, G.; Meibom, A.; Mennella, V.; Mostefaoui, S.; Nittler, L. R.; Palumbo, M. E.; Papanastassiou, D. A.; Robert, F.; Rotundi, A.; Snead, C. J.; Spencer, M. K.; Stadermann, F. J.; Steele, A.; Stephan, T.; Tsou, P.; Tyliszczak, T.; Westphal, A. J.; Wirick, S.; Wopenka, B.; Yabuta, H.; Zare, R. N.; Zolensky, M. E. (15 December 2006). "Organics Captured from Comet 81P/Wild 2 by the Stardust Spacecraft" (PDF). Science. 314 (5806): 1720–1724. Bibcode:2006Sci...314.1720S. doi:10.1126/science.1135841. PMID 17170291. Retrieved 29 March 2017.
  35. "Peer-reviewed Publications". Zarelab. Retrieved 22 July 2019.
  36. "The National Fresenius Award". Phi Lambda Upsilon. Retrieved 29 March 2017.
  37. "Gas Kinetics Awards The Polanyi Medal". Royal Society of Chemistry. Retrieved 29 March 2017.
  38. Wright, Judith (1999). Vision, venture, and volunteers : 50 years of history of the Pittsburgh Conference on Analytical Chemistry and Applied Spectroscopy. Philadelphia, Pa.: Chemical Heritage Foundation. p. 94. ISBN 9780941901192. Retrieved 29 March 2017.
  39. "Awards: Richard Zare receives Kirkwood Award". Chemical & Engineering News. 65 (9): 42–59. 2 March 1987. doi:10.1021/cen-v065n009.p042.
  40. Sleeman, Elizabeth (2003). The international who's who 2004 (67th ed.). London: Europa. p. 1868. ISBN 9781857432176. Retrieved 29 March 2017.
  41. "NAS Award in Chemical Sciences". National Academy of Sciences. Retrieved 29 March 2017.
  42. "Division Awards Program". ACS Division of Analytical Chemistry. Retrieved 29 March 2017.
  43. "Zare named 2003 Hoagland Prize winner". Stanford Report. September 24, 2003. Retrieved 29 March 2017.
  44. "People item Richard Zare: 6/11/97". Stanford News. June 11, 1997. Retrieved 29 March 2017.
  45. "ACS Award in Analytical Chemistry". American Chemical Society. Retrieved 29 March 2017.
  46. "E. Bright Wilson Award in Spectroscopy". American Chemical Society. Retrieved 29 March 2017.
  47. "Honorary Doctors of the Faculty of Science and Technology". Uppsala University. Retrieved 28 March 2017.
  48. "Nobel Laureate Signature Award for Graduate Education in Chemistry". American Chemical Society. Retrieved 29 March 2017.
  49. Borman, Stu (3 April 2000). "Parsons Award Goes To Zare". Chemical & Engineering News. 78 (14): 14. doi:10.1021/cen-v078n014.p014a.
  50. "Welcome to NESACS - Awards | James Flack Norris Award Recipients".
  51. Shwartz, Mark (January 27, 2005). "2005 Wolf Prize given to chemist Richard N. Zare". Stanford Report. Retrieved 28 March 2017.
  52. Shwartz, Mark (April 4, 2006). "Richard Zare named Howard Hughes Medical Institute Professor". Bio-Medicine. Retrieved 28 March 2017.
  53. "Our Scientists: Richard N. Zare, PhD HHMI Professor / 2006–Present". Howard Hughes Medical Institute. Retrieved 28 March 2017.
  54. "2011 King Faisal International Prize for Science awarded jointly to Whitesides and Zare". Physics Today. 15 June 2011. doi:10.1063/PT.4.0356.
  55. "Othmer Gold Medal". Science History Institute. 2016-05-31. Retrieved 22 March 2018.
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