Photo of Stuart A. Rice

Stuart A. Rice

  • National Medal of Science
  • Chemistry

For changing the very nature of modern physical chemistry through his research, teaching, and writing, using imaginative approaches to both experiment and theory that have inspired a new generation of scientists.

Using experimental methods and theoretical approaches, Stuart Rice had a critical influence on the development of physical chemistry. His research ranged from liquids, quantum control, surfaces and colloidal systems. One of Rice’s first major areas of interest addressed the structure of polymers particularly polyelectrolytes. This work provided essential insights into the helix-coil transition and the denaturation of DNA and the retention of the shape of DNA in solution.

Rice’s research ranged from investigating individual molecules to the condensed phase. His research on the integration between fluids and condensed phase chemical physics resulted in important contributions to elementary excitations in fluids. His exploration of elementary excitations in condensed rare gases was crucial in the evolution of chemical lasers. Rice’s subsequent studies in the field laid the foundations for the theory of exciton states in liquids, providing the first theory of energetics, line shapes, and relaxation of elementary electronic excitations in disordered materials.

By Jen Santisi