Photo of Robert N. Clayton

Robert N. Clayton

  • National Medal of Science
  • Physical Sciences

For his contributions to geochemistry and cosmochemistry that provided major insights into the evolution of the solar system through his discovery of non-mass-dependent isotope shifts in meteorites.

Robert Clayton on the relatability of his work

Robert N. Clayton takes stargazing to a new level. The Enrico Fermi Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus of Chemistry at the University of Chicago studies cosmochemistry, the variations and abundances in chemical elements of their stable isotopes in extraterrestrial materials, or space.

Clayton’s meteorite studies have worked to analyze the origin of the planets and the initial conditions of formation of the Earth through Isotopic studies of terrestrial materials. He has led the development of the ion microprobe, for elements at low concentrations in microscopic samples.

Most recently, Clayton’s partnership with the Argonne National Laboratory is driving discoveries in measuring the products of stellar nuclear reactions to research evidence of nucleosynthesis in red-giant stars and supernovae.

A recipient of the Geochemical Society’s V. M. Goldschmidt Award and Meteoritical Society Leonard Medal, Clayton is also member of the National Academy of Society, fellow of the Royal Society of London and Royal Society of Canada.

By Melissa Ayala