15 thoughts on “Kurt Mislow

  1. mike axelrod

    I knew Kurt since 1961 when, as a new graduate student, I experienced the rigorous intellectual discipline demanded of those who chose to do their research under his tutelage .

    Tuesday night sessions at NYU, which lasted well into the wee hours, were an opportunity to present your research to Kurt and his post-doc “raptors”. God help you if you were not prepared to argue your position with impeccable and indisputable logic!

    I moved to Princeton with Kurt in 1964. I was intimidated by what I thought would be a challenge to meet the expectations of the Princeton faculty and students. Our NYU crew quickly discovered that the hours spent with Dr. Mislow proved propitious. Then, and throughout by life since that time, I have never been unprepared.

    Kurt was without equal in shaping my future. Knowing him has been one of my life’s greatest rewards.

  2. David Curtin

    I was a poor student of organic chemistry, but Kurt was an amazing, inspiring teacher and an incredibly kind man. It is the glory of Princeton that such an giant of chemistry still took the time to inspire undergraduates. Thank you, Professor Mislow.

  3. Paolo Finocchiaro

    The very sad news stroke me very much and me too I felt a very big lost.
    He was my great teacher not only for chemistry but, more important, for
    life.He knew everything and I recall the wonderful discussion that we had
    He was such a great man and scientist.

  4. Bruce Hietbrink

    I just ran across this news, very sad to hear. I was lucky enough to take a course that Professor Mislow taught on stereochemistry when he was on sabbatical at Caltech back in the early 90’s and have several conversations with him. It was an awesome opportunity to listen to his careful thinking about these issues of organic structure. He was truly inspiring to me as a physical organic chemist and, when I’m teaching sophomores how to identify enantiomers or name R and S centers, I hope that I can bring just a little bit of the fascination to the subject that Prof. Mislow did when teaching us.

  5. Bruce Hietbrink

    Sorry, one other comment. Still today, every organic chemist should go and read An Epistemological Note on Chirality – one of my favorite papers of all time.

  6. Richard J. Cook

    It was a distinct privilege to do my doctoral work under Kurt Mislow at Princeton. Witnessing his creative and critical mind at work was an inspiration and an unforgettable lesson in not only science but also in living. He inspired us to think and communicate clearly and effectively with a precision as keen as his experimental designs. He settled for nothing less than the rigorous and elegant best in everything he did. His expectations and standards were very high, but his kindness, human concern, and decency shone through everything he did and said. He was a wonderful mentor, friend, and role model. Kurt was bigger than life, will be sorely missed, but fondly and lovingly remembered by all of us he influenced and touched so deeply.

  7. Paul Bickart

    I was shocked to read of Kurt’s death in C&EN today (November 22). Somehow I always thought of him as immortal. His stature, both scientific and moral (not to mention physical) , was immense, and the rigor of his thought a guiding light. He was always confident in his understanding, yet never afraid to be contradicted by a fact. His patience with students who might well have been written off was enormous; I was the beneficiary of his generosity more than once. And I learned from him never to perform an experiment whose outcome could provide no information.
    Thank you, Kurt.

  8. David Myers

    I felt honored to have learned stereochemistry at the hands of Prof. Mislow. While he could be an imposing figure at his height, those who spoke with him found him to be the consummate teacher. He shall be sorely missed by those of us who took classes with him.

  9. Juliette Arnheim

    Three giants of the Princeton Chemistry Department have passed away within a few weeks of one another, first Kurt, then Don, then Ted. The legendary stereochemist may have appeared to be rushed, but he had all the time in the world for anyone who asked him a question or for a favor. His attachment to books and the library endeared him to me as Chemistry Librarian just down the hall from his office in Frick. Our relationship expanded into a personal one over the years, and we talked about music, social responsibility, France/Germany/US as well as our families. The loss of John was a great tragedy. My deepest sympathy to his wife, son and grandchildren as they remember this delightful and accomplished man who left a lasting mark.

  10. Robert O'Brien

    I have just learned of Kurt’s death. It is with sadness that I learned of his passing. Kurt gave my life. He introduced me to intellectualism and the power of reason. He taught me how to understand complex issues not only in chemistry but in other areas of life. He was a true scholar. Kurt also enjoyed a good joke and we had many a good laugh together. Our world is surely poorer with Kurt gone.

  11. Bob Lewis

    I just heard of Doc’s passing, and like Paul, I thought of him as immortal. He not only taught me chemistry and helped me through my thesis work; he taught me a lot about commitment and honesty and the value of one’s word. Doc could be an imposing big bear of a man, somewhat scary in full voice – but to those of us in Doc’s group, he was mostly a lovable teddy bear. No matter that he was a famous scientist thinking great thoughts; he always had time for a student, whether the issue was technical or personal. Thank you, Doc. You are missed.

  12. mike axelrod


    Weren’t you once of Kurt’s earliest students at NYU? Kurt mentioned you as well as others like Mike Glass as examples of what he expected of his newbies. At his evening research meetings when you had to defend your work, god help you if you were unprepared.
    Since that time, I have never been unprepared for anything in my subsequent 50+ years.

    Mike Axelrod

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