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Biographical Memoirs, Volume 84
In 1957 he accepted a position as assistant professor at the University of Chicago as a natural products chemist.
Gerhard’s early independent studies were assisted by Lieselotte E. Closs (née Pohmer), his wife and most productive coworker; their collaboration produced 15 publications between 1959 and 1969. Lieselotte also received a Ph.D. degree with Wittig for her classic work on the transient existence of dehydrobenzene.1,2 She did postdoctoral work at MIT. Lieselotte and Gerhard were married on August 17, 1956, in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Employment opportunities for women scientists were very limited in the 1950s and 1960s. University regulations against nepotism prohibited wives from holding paid positions in the same department as their husbands; therefore, Lieselotte could only work as an unpaid volunteer. The availability of a skilled coworker proved especially fortuitous when Gerhard entered the chemically induced dynamic nuclear polarization field (see below). Lieselotte re-entered the lab, carried out a few simple but elegant experiments to probe key aspects, and soon had results sufficient for two “Communications to the Editor.”
Gerhard Closs was granted tenure in 1961 and was promoted to full professor just two years later. Almost 20 years later he accepted the position of section head in the Chemistry Division at Argonne National Laboratory, while remaining on the Chicago faculty. Although he kept this position for only three years, it significantly influenced the direction of his research in the final decade of his life.
The work of Gerhard Closs has been recognized at the University of Chicago and in the scientific community at large. He was appointed the Michelson Distinguished Service Professor, and his colleagues honored him along with N. C. Yang with a symposium on the occasion of their sixti-