Woodson Research Center, Rice University

Guide to the Rice University Nobel Prize records, 1978-2006, bulk 1996

Collection Summary

Title: Rice University Nobel Prize records
Dates: 1978-2006
Abstract: The collection consists of biographical sketches, invitations, news clippings, press releases and video clips relating to Nobel Laureates Robert Woodrow Wilson, Richard E. Smalley and Robert F. Curl.
Identification: UA 123
Quantity: 1 cu. ft.
Language: Materials are in English
Repository: Woodson Research Center,  Fondren Library, Rice University, Houston, TX

Biographical Sketch

Robert Woodrow Wilson (1936-) graduated from Rice University with honors in Physics in 1957. He received a Ph.D. from the California Institute of Technology in 1962 and was a post-doctoral fellow at Owens Valley Radio Observatory before joining the technical staff at Bell Laboratories in 1963. Dr. Wilson, together with colleague Arno Penzias, was awarded the 1978 Nobel Prize in Physics for his part in the discovery of cosmic microwave background radiation. The two shared the prize with Professor Piotr Leontevich of Moscow. Dr. Wilson was later honored with Rice University’s 1979 Distinguished Alumnus Award.

Robert F. Curl was born in 1933 and received his B.A. from Rice Institute in 1954 and his Ph.D. from Berkeley in 1957. In 1958, Dr. Curl joined the faculty at Rice University as assistant professor, in 1967 became a full professor and served as chair of the chemistry department from 1992 to 1996. Robert Curl, together with Richard Smalley, was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for the discovery of "buckminsterfullerenes," soccer ball-shaped carbon molecules, the third molecular form of carbon. The carbon was named for philosopher and mathematician R. Buckminster Fuller because they resemble his famed invention, the geodesic dome. They shared the prize with Sir Harold Kroto of the University of Sussex in Brighton, England.

Dr. Curl is a member of Phi Beta Kappa, Phi Lamba Upsilon and Sigma Xi, and a Fellow of the Optical Society of America. He has been Visiting Research Officer at the National Research Council of Canada, visiting scientist at the Institute of Molecular Science, Okazaki, Japan, and the National Institute for Standards and Technology in Boulder, the University of Bonn, and the University of Canterbury, Christchurch, New Zealand. His many honors include the Clayton Prize of the Institute of Mechanical Engineers and the Alexander von Humboldt Senior US Scientist Award from the University of Bonn, Germany, the American Physical Society International Prize for New Materials (1992), Centenary Medal from the Royal Society of Chemistry (1999), elected Fellow, The Royal Society of New Zealand (2001), Doctor Honoris Causa, Universite du Littoral Cote d’Opale (2002), Honorary Professor, University of Science & Technology of China (2002) and University of Bochum Research Prize (2004).

Dr. Curl is currently University Professor Emeritus, Pitzer-Schlumberger Professor of Natural Sciences Emeritus, Professor of Chemistry Emeritus.

Richard E. Smalley was born in 1943 and received his B.S. from the University of Michigan in 1965. He spent four years as a research chemist with Shell before receiving his Ph.D. from Princeton in 1973. Dr. Smalley arrived at Rice University in 1976 and was named the Gene and Norman Hackerman Professor of Chemistry in 1982. Professor Smalley was one of the founders of the Rice Quantum Institute in 1979 and served as director of the institute from 1986 to 1996. He was also a professor in the department of Physics and in 1996 was appointed director of Rice’s new Center for Nanoscale Science and Technology. He was most widely known for the discovery of and characterization of "buckminsterfullerene" or "buckyballs", a soccer ball-shaped molecule. Dr. Smalley, together with Robert F. Curl was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1996.

Richard Smalley was a member of the National Academy of Sciences and a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Science, the American Physical Society, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He was the recipient of many honors including the Lifetime Achievement Award (2003), the Glenn T. Seaborg Medal from UCLA (2002), the American Carbon Society Medal (1997), the Franklin Medal from the Committee on Science and the Arts of the Franklin Institute (1996), Hewlett-Packard Europhysics Prize from the European Physical Society (1994), the Welch Award in Chemistry from the Robert A. Welch Foundation (1992), Ernest O. Lawrence Memorial Award from the U.S. Department of Energy (1992), and the Irving Langmuir Prize in Chemical Physics from the American Physical Society (1991).

Richard E. Smalley died on October 28, 2005.

Scope and Contents

Biographical sketches of the Nobel Laureates, invitations to receptions and luncheons, news clippings, newspapers, press releases and press kits, video clips and other media reports. 3 news items are mounted The bulk of the collection is related to the award given in 1996 to Richard E. Smalley and Robert F. Curl.



This collection is arranged into the following two series:
Series I: Robert Woodrow Wilson, 1978 Nobel Prize in Physics, 1978-1979
Series II: Robert F. Curl and Richard E. Smalley, 1996 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, 1996-2006


Restrictions on Access

This material is open for research.

Restrictions on Use

Permission to publish from the Rice University Nobel Prize Records, 1978-2006 must be obtained from the Woodson Research Center, Fondren Library, Rice University.

Index Terms

Subjects (Persons):
Curl, Robert F., 1933-
Smalley, Richard E., 1943-2005
Wilson, Robert Woodrow, 1936-
Subjects (Organizations):
Rice University – Dept. of Chemistry
Rice University - Faculty
Rice University – History
Nobel prizes
Nobel Prize winners
Chemists – Texas - Houston
Video recordings

Related Material

See Richard Smalley Academic Papers, 1990-1998, bulk 1990-1993, MS 490, Woodson Research Center.

See Robert F. Curl Academic Papers, 1981-1985, MS 483, Woodson Research Center.

Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Rice University Nobel Prize records, 1978-2006, UA 123, Woodson Research Center, Fondren Library, Rice University


This material was collected by Woodson Research Center staff.

Detailed Description of the Collection


Series I. Robert Woodrow Wilson, 1978 Nobel Prize in Physics, 1978-1979

box folder
1 1 Biographical sketch and invitation to reception for Rice University’s Distinguished Alumnus Award, 1979
2 News clippings and press release, 1978-1979


Series II. Robert F. Curl and Richard E. Smalley, 1996 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, 1996-2006

box folder
1 3 Biographical sketches, 1996
4 Invitations, 1996-1997
5 Correspondence, 1996
6 News clippings, 1996-1997
7 Newspapers, 1996-1997
8 Press releases, 1996
9 Press kit, 1996
10 Sallyport magazine article and memorial service programs on the death of Richard E. Smalley, 2005-2006
11 List of video clips, 1996
Video recordings - news stories of local network and cable coverage of the 1996 Nobel Prize (6 VHS tapes)
81 3 oversize/mounted new clippings, 1996