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Verner Schomaker (1914-1997)

J. Appl. Cryst. (1997). 30, 526

Verner Schomaker, possessor of one of the most critical and wide-ranging scientific intellects of our time, died of pancreatic cancer in Pasadena, California on 30 March 1997.

Every scientific question seemed to interest Verner and anyone with a knotty problem was welcome at his door. His memory was prodigious and when he encountered a problem he `worried it' like a dog with a bone. He might not have all the insight he wanted when the question was first raised but he would not forget and sometimes returned to it years later.

He was at once friendly, open, uncommonly generous and extremely bright. He was without peer as a one-to-one teacher. He is best known for his contributions in electron and X-ray diffraction. He thought that his most important contribution had been in the early days of electron diffraction, for his development of techniques for the visual interpretation of the scattering of electrons by gas molecules. But he published in many other fields as well. His generous spirit, his penetrating intellect, his breadth of interests and curiosity, and his selflessness, led almost everyone within his orbit to use him as a consultant in fields covering diffraction, quantum mechanics, immunochemistry, NMR, spectroscopy, thermodynamics, and inorganic and organic chemistry.

A native of Nebraska, he earned a BS from that state's University in 1934 and an MS in 1935. He then moved to Pasadena, where Pauling quickly recognized his uncommon qualities. He received a PhD in 1938 and the ACS Award in Pure Chemistry in 1949. He served as ACA President in 1961-1962. In 1958 he left academic work to join the Union Carbide Research Institute for seven years before joining the faculty of the Department of Chemistry at the University of Washington in Seattle. He served initially for five years as Chair, during an important time for faculty growth. He became Professor Emeritus in 1984. After retirement, he was also a Faculty Associate at Caltech.


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Updated 27th September 1997

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