William von Eggers Doering

William von Eggers Doering (June 22, 1917 – January 3, 2011)[1] was a Professor Emeritus at Harvard University and the former Chair of its Chemistry Department. Prior to joining the Faculty at Harvard, he was a member of the Chemistry Faculties of Columbia University (1942–1952) and Yale (1952–1968).

William von Eggers Doering
Born(1917-06-22)June 22, 1917
DiedJanuary 3, 2011(2011-01-03) (aged 93)
ResidenceUnited States
CitizenshipUnited States
Alma materHarvard University
Known forSynthesis of quinine with Woodward, contributions to physical organic chemistry
AwardsACS Award in Pure Chemistry (1953)

James Flack Norris Award in Physical Organic Chemistry (1989)

Welch Award (1990)
Scientific career
FieldsOrganic chemistry
InstitutionsHarvard University, Columbia University, Yale University
Doctoral advisorSir Reginald Patrick Linstead
Doctoral studentsKenneth Wiberg, Andrew Streitwieser, Maitland Jones, Jr., Charles DePuy

Doering was born in Fort Worth, Texas to academics Carl Rupp Doering and Antoinette Mathilde von Eggers, both of whom were professors at Texas Christian University. His maternal great-uncle was the prominent German financier and economist Hjalmar Schacht, sometime President of the Reichsbank and cabinet minister in Nazi Germany.[2]

Doering was an undergraduate at Harvard University, where he took courses with some of the leading organic chemists at the time, including Louis Fieser and Paul Bartlett. He stayed at Harvard for his graduate education, where he studied catalytic hydrogenation under Reginald Linstead,[3] completing his PhD in 1943. Before beginning his independent career, he became famous for completing a (formal) quinine total synthesis with Robert Burns Woodward as a postdoctoral scholar, a wartime achievement that was publicized at the time by the national news media, including TIME magazine. Subsequently, during an independent career at Columbia, Yale, and Harvard that spanned over half a century, he made numerous contributions to the field of physical organic chemistry.[4]

Having published his first scientific paper in 1939 and his last in 2008, he holds the rare distinction of having authored scholarly articles in eight different decades. In 1989, he received the "James Flack Norris Award in Physical Organic Chemistry" of the American Chemical Society and in 1990 the Robert A. Welch Award in Chemistry.[5]

Some of his major contributions include recognition of the aromatic nature of the tropylium cation and the early use of 1H NMR for the characterization of carbocations and other reactive intermediates, including heptamethylbenzenium cation, investigation of the stereochemistry of the Cope rearrangement, and pioneering work in carbene chemistry, including the discovery of dichlorocarbene. Some other notable work include the synthesis of fulvalene, the discoveries of the Doering-LaFlamme allene synthesis and the Parikh-Doering oxidation, prediction of the existence of bullvalene as a fluxional molecule, and elucidation of the mechanism of the Baeyer–Villiger oxidation.[6] Together with H. H. Zeiss, he proposed the Doering-Zeiss mechanistic hypothesis for solvolysis reactions. He first articulated the notion that cyclic systems with (4n + 2) π-electrons exhibit aromatic stability (the modern form of Hückel's rule)[7] and coined the term "carbene" in collaboration with Woodward and Winstein during a nocturnal cab ride in Chicago.[8]


  1. Chemistrviews obituary retrieved 22nd April 2011
  2. Bliss, Gil (January 23, 2011). "William Doering, 93, eminent chemist, Harvard professor". The Boston Globe. Retrieved October 27, 2019.
  3. "William von Eggers Doering". Harvard Gazette. 2012-05-24. Retrieved 2019-06-13.
  4. Daintith, p. 968.
  5. James Flack Norris Award in Physical Organic Chemistry, American Chemical Society
  6. Klärner, F.-G. (2011), William von Eggers Doering (1917–2011). Angewandte Chemie International Edition, 50: 2885–2886. doi: 10.1002/anie.201100453
  7. Doering, W. v. E. (September 1951) Abstracts of the American Chemical Society Meeting, New York, 24M.
  8. Nickon, Alex; Silversmith, Ernest F. (2013). Organic Chemistry: The Name Game: Modern Coined Terms and Their Origins. New York: Elsevier. p. 154. ISBN 1483145239.


This article is issued from Wikipedia. The text is licensed under Creative Commons - Attribution - Sharealike. Additional terms may apply for the media files.