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Biographical Memoirs: Volume 79
DEAN STANLEY TARBELL
October 19, 1913–May 26, 1999
BY NELSON J. LEONARD
DEAN STANLEY TARBELL had a distinguished career in research and teaching in organic chemistry. His contributions to physical organic chemistry included elucidation of addition reactions to olefins, determination of intermediates in the Claisen rearrangement of allyl aryl ethers, and quantitative comparison of the behavior of organo sulfur versus organo oxygen compounds. He discovered new categories of organic compounds, including mixed carboxyliccarbonic anhydrides, and delineated their chemistry. He established the structures of important natural products, notably those of colchicine, which arrests the process of cell division in plants and animals, and the antibiotic fumagillin, which has emerged as an inhibitor of angiogenesis.
In the course of his research, Tarbell also contributed substantially to the methodology of organic synthesis. The University of Rochester and Vanderbilt University, in turn, benefited greatly from his presence on their faculties, and he was most effective in his role as a teacher and a director of research for many, many students. He also established himself, along with his wife, Ann, as a biographer of chemists and historian of science. A true scholar of language as well as history, he could read Latin, French, German, Classical