Nobel Prize Winners: Part One

Through using our helpful ‘On This Day’ tool, we discovered that 10th December marks the anniversary of six Nobel prize-winners who have strong links to the University. To celebrate, here is a brief summary of the first three Nobel laureates:

William Ramsay

Sir William Ramsay was presented with the 1904 Nobel Prize in Chemistry “in recognition of his services in the discovery of the inert gaseous elements in air, and his determination of their place in the periodic system”.

Ramsay was born in Glasgow and studied at the University from 1866 to 1870. He later moved to Germany, receiving a PhD from the University of Tübingen in 1874. He then returned to Glasgow, working at Anderson College and the University of Glasgow, where he was appointed tutorial assistant in the University’s Chemistry Department.


William Ramsay’s matriculation record – detail from page, 1866 (GUAS: R8/1/4)

Ramsay was most known for his work in inorganic Chemistry. In addition to his discovery of inert gaseous elements, he also worked with fellow nobel prize winner Frederick Soddy to show that the decay of radium produced helium gas. In honour of his contribution to science, the Ramsay Chair of Chemistry was founded in 1966. You can read more about his scientific discoveries on our World Changing site here. For further information on William Ramsay, check out his University Story entry here.

Frederick Soddy

Frederick Soddy was presented with the 1922 Nobel Prize in Chemistry “for his contributions to our knowledge of the chemistry of radioactive substances, and his investigations into the origin and nature of isotopes”.

Soddy was a lecturer in Physical Chemistry and Radioactivity at the University from 1904 to 1914. It is during this time that he produced his most important research into the chemistry of radioactive elements, particularly the discovery of isotopes which led to a new understanding of atomic structure.


Frederick Soddy (GUAS: UP1/503/1)

The papers of Frederick Soddy are held at Glasgow University Archive Services; to see what we hold, click here. His University Story entry can also be found here. For further information on his scientific discoveries, click here for his World Changing profile.

Lord Boyd Orr


Lord Boyd Orr (GUAS: UP1/441/2)

Lord Boyd Orr of Brechin was presented with the Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo in 1949. Boyd Orr had devoted his academic life to the study of nutrition, the diet of animals and men and was praised at the ceremony for his work in “the coordination of agricultural and nutritional policies, not only in order to free mankind from want, but also to create a basis for peaceful cooperation between classes, nations, and races”.

Boyd Orr had strong links with the University of Glasgow, graduating MA in 1902, BSc in 1910 and MB, ChB in 1912. He also became Rector in 1945, and was Chancellor from 1946 to 1972. And of course – the Boyd Orr building is named for him.

Orr led pioneering studies in the nutrition of farm animals and human populations, and worked closely with the government to develop a policy of rationing during the Second World War. You can read more about his Nobel Peace Prize on our World Changing site here. His University Story profile is also viewable here.


Look out for a post on the other three University of Glasgow Nobel winners this afternoon!

Categories: Archive Services

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2 replies

  1. How is it possible to fail to see the Nobel/Noble errors in the heading and text of this item? Does no-one proofread?


  1. Nobel Prize Winners: Part 2 | University of Glasgow Library

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