People A-Z  /  Herbert Hauptman, Ph.D.

Mathematician. Nobel Prize Winner for Chemistry, 1985



Herbert Aaron Hauptman was born in New York City, New York on February 14, 1917. He attended the City College of New York where he earned a Bachelor of Science in Mathematics, followed by an MA in Mathematics from Columbia University in 1939 and a PhD from the University of Maryland in 1955. At the University of Maryland, Dr. Hauptman began a partnership with Jerome Karle, whose background was in physical chemistry. This collaboration led to work on the “phase problem” of x-ray crystallography that eventually led them to be named co-recipients of the 1985 Nobel Prize in Chemistry. The “Solution of the Phase Problem I. The Centrosymmetric Crystal,” introduced probabilistic methods that were crucial for phase determination of X-ray crystallography which had applications in the realms of pharmacology, biology and other sciences and technology. Hauptman is the only mathematician to be awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry.

Herbert Hauptman joined the crystallographic group of the Medical Foundation of Buffalo in 1970 and rose to research director in 1972, and later was elected President, where he continued work on the phase problem. Hauptman also worked as a Research Professor of Biophysical Sciences at the University at Buffalo from 1970. His work enabled the development of new and more effective drugs, as well as having computer-processing applications. The Medical Foundation of Buffalo was renamed the Hauptman-Woodward Medical Research Institute in 1994 to honor Hauptman and Helen Woodward-Rivas, a benefactor of the institute. In 2001, the Hauptman-Woodward Institute and the University formed the UB Department of Structural Biology. Dr. Hauptman continued his research and writing until his death in 2011 at the age of 94. In addition to the Nobel prize, Dr. Hauptman received over twenty other titles and honors including locally awards: Citizen of the Year Award, Buffalo Evening News, 1986, Norton Medal, SUNY, 1986, Schoellkopf Award, American Chemical Society (Western New York Chapter) 1986, Cooke Award, SUNY, 1987, Honorary degree from the D’Youville College, Buffalo, New York in 1989 and an Honorary degree from SUNY at Buffalo, Buffalo, New York in 2009.

Hauptman Woodward Medical Research Institute

Associated Research Institute

Legacy Endowment

University at Maryland (Dr. Hauptman’s alma mater, established by daughter)


Herbert Hauptman, On the Beauty of Science: A Nobel Laureate Reflects on the Universe, God, and the Nature of Discovery, Ed. D. J. Grothe, as told by D. J. Grothe, Prometheus Books, 2008. 

In addition, Herbert Hauptman has written numerous books and hundreds of articles in his specialty field that can be searched independently.


Herbert Hauptman and Rabbi Gurary and Family

Hauptman Nobel Prize Medal at Cofeld Museum



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Archival Collection at the University Archives, University at Buffalo

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