John Brauman’s journey into a career in the sciences is a classic one: he was inspired by a charismatic high school chemistry teacher. (By chance, this very same high school teacher taught a number of other National Academy of Sciences members, Brauman noted in an interview.) When he started taking science classes as an undergraduate at MIT in the 1950s, Brauman discovered that he was particularly good at chemistry, more so than other sciences, and decided to stick with it. Brauman went on to become a renowned organic chemist at Stanford University, acclaimed for his work exploring how molecules react and the factors that determine these chemical reactions. His work fundamentally altered how chemists today consider the properties of ions, and helped determine the role of the solvent — the solution, liquid, or gas in which a reaction takes place — in chemical stability and reactivity.
By Sara Grossman