Melvin Calvin

Melvin Calvin
Melvin Calvin

Melvin Calvin
Born April 8, 1911
St. Paul, Minnesota, USA
Died January 8, 1997(1997-01-08) (aged 85)
Berkeley, California
Nationality United States
Fields Chemistry, Biology
Institutions University of Manchester
University of California, Berkeley
Berkeley Radiation Laboratory
Science Advisory Committee
Alma mater Michigan College of Mining and Technology
University of Minnesota
Known for Calvin cycle
Notable awards Nobel Prize for Chemistry (1961)
Priestley Medal
Davy Medal
Gold Medal from American Institute of Chemists
National Medal of Science (1989)[1]

Melvin Ellis Calvin (April 8, 1911 – January 8, 1997)[2] was an American chemist most famed for discovering the Calvin cycle along with Andrew Benson and James Bassham, for which he was awarded the 1961 Nobel Prize in Chemistry. He spent most of his five-decade career at the University of California, Berkeley.



Calvin was born in St. Paul, Minnesota, the son of Russian Jewish immigrants. His father was born in Tsarist Lithuania and his mother in Tsarist Georgia. As a small child, Calvin's family moved to Detroit; he graduated from Central High School in 1928.[3] Melvin Calvin earned his Bachelor of Science from the Michigan College of Mining and Technology (now known as Michigan Technological University) in 1931 and his Ph.D. in chemistry from the University of Minnesota in 1935. He then spent the next four years doing postdoctoral work at the University of Manchester. He married Genevieve Jemtegaard in 1942, and they had three children, two daughters and a son.

Calvin joined the faculty at the University of California, Berkeley in 1937 and was promoted to Professor of Chemistry in 1947. Using the carbon-14 isotope as a tracer, Calvin, Andrew Benson and James Bassham mapped the complete route that carbon travels through a plant during photosynthesis, starting from its absorption as atmospheric carbon dioxide to its conversion into carbohydrates and other organic compounds.[4][5] In doing so, Calvin, Benson and Bassham showed that sunlight acts on the chlorophyll in a plant to fuel the manufacturing of organic compounds, rather than on carbon dioxide as was previously believed. Calvin was the sole recipient of the 1961 Nobel Prize for Chemistry for what is sometimes known as the Calvin-Benson-Bassham Cycle. Calvin wrote an autobiography three decades later titled Following the Trail of Light: A Scientific Odyssey. In it, he makes no mention of Andrew Benson and the fundamental, formative contributions that Benson made to these discoveries.[6] During the 1950s he was among the first members of the Society for General Systems Research. In 1963 he was given the additional title of Professor of Molecular Biology. He was founder and Director of the Laboratory of Chemical Biodynamics and simultaneously Associate Director of Berkeley Radiation Laboratory, where he conducted much of his research until his retirement in 1980. In his final years of active research, he studied the use of oil-producing plants as renewable sources of energy. He also spent many years testing the chemical evolution of life and wrote a book on the subject that was published in 1969.[7]


On June 16, 2011, it was announced by the United States Postal Service that Melvin Calvin would be featured on the Forever Stamp, along with Severo Ochoa, Maria Goeppert Mayer, and Asa Gray. This was also announced on the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory home page.

See also

  • List of Jewish Nobel laureates


  1. ^ National Science Foundation - The President's National Medal of Science
  2. ^ Seaborg, G. T.; Benson, A. A. (2008). "Melvin Calvin. 8 April 1911 -- 8 January 1997". Biographical Memoirs of Fellows of the Royal Society 54: 59. doi:10.1098/rsbm.2007.0050.  edit
  3. ^
  4. ^ CALVIN, M (1956). "[The photosynthetic cycle.]". Bull. Soc. Chim. Biol. 38 (11): pp. 1233–44. 1956 Dec 7. PMID 13383309 
  5. ^ BARKER, S A; BASSHAM, J A; CALVIN, M; QUARCK, U C (1956). "Intermediates in the photosynthetic cycle". Biochim. Biophys. Acta 21 (2): pp. 376–7. 1956 Aug. doi:10.1016/0006-3002(56)90022-1. PMID 13363921 
  6. ^ Calvin, Melvin (1992). Following the Trail of Light: A Scientific Odyssey (Profiles, Pathways & Dreams) . Wiley VCH. ISBN 0841218285. 
  7. ^ Calvin, Melvin. Chemical evolution: molecular evolution towards the origin of living systems on the earth and elsewhere. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1969. ISBN 0198553420.


External links

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  • Melvin Calvin — (1962) Melvin Calvin (* 8. April 1911 in Saint Paul, Minnesota; † 8. Januar 1997 in Berkeley, Kalifornien) war ein US amerikanischer Chemiker, Biochemiker und Nobelpreisträger, dem es nach dem Zweiten Weltkrieg gelang, die Sekundärreaktion der …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Melvin Calvin — Melvin Calvin …   Wikipedia Español

  • Melvin Calvin — Portait de Melvin Calvin Melvin Calvin (8 avril 1911 à Saint Paul, Minnesota, États Unis 8 janvier 1997 était un biochimiste américain. Il est lauréat du prix Nobel de chimie de 1961 …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Melvin Calvin — noun United States chemist noted for discovering the series of chemical reactions in photosynthesis (1911 ) • Syn: ↑Calvin • Instance Hypernyms: ↑chemist …   Useful english dictionary

  • Chemienobelpreis 1961: Melvin Calvin —   Der amerikanische Chemiker erhielt den Nobelpreis für Chemie für »seine Forschungen über die Assimilation des Kohlendioxids bei Pflanzen«.    Biografie   Melvin Calvin, * St. Paul (Minnesota) 8. 4. 1911, ✝ Berkeley (Kalifornien) 8. 1. 1997;… …   Universal-Lexikon

  • Melvin — may refer to one of the following: Contents 1 As a surname 2 As a given name 3 Fictional characters 4 Places 5 …   Wikipedia

  • Melvin — bezeichnet Personen: Allan Melvin (1923–2008), US amerikanischer Schauspieler Chasity Melvin (* 1976), US amerikanischer Basketballspieler Eric Melvin (* 1966), US amerikanischer Punkrock Musiker Harold Melvin († 1997), US amerikanischer Sänger,… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • CALVIN (M.) — CALVIN MELVIN (1911 1997) Biochimiste américain dont les travaux ont renouvelé les connaissances relatives à la photosynthèse. Fils d’émigrés russes, Melvin Calvin obtient son diplôme de chimie en 1931 au Michigan College of Mining and Technology …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • Calvin — may refer to: * Calvin (character in Calvin and Hobbes comic strip) * Calvin College, a college in Grand Rapids, Michigan * Calvin, Louisiana, a town in Louisiana, United States * Calvin (name), the given name Calvin * Calvin ( Aron! HyperSpace… …   Wikipedia

  • Calvin — ist ein französischer Name, zu lateinisch calvus = „kahlköpfig“ Inhaltsverzeichnis 1 Bekannte Namensträger 1.1 Vorname 1.2 Familienname 1.3 …   Deutsch Wikipedia

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