April 19, 1912–February 25, 1999
BY DARLEANE C. HOFFMAN
GLENN T. SEABORG WAS a world-renowned nuclear chemist, educator, scientific advisor to 10 U.S. presidents, humanitarian, and Nobel laureate in chemistry. He is probably best known for his leadership of the team that in 1941 accomplished the first chemical separation and positive identification of plutonium and his “revolutionary” actinide concept (1944) in which he placed the first 14 elements heavier than actinium in the periodic table of elements as a 5f transition series under the lanthanide 4f transition series. He went on to be codiscoverer of 9 elements beyond plutonium, culminating in 1974 in the production of element 106, later named seaborgium in his honor.
Seaborg was also well known as an educator and for his tireless efforts to improve U.S. science education at all levels. He served as chancellor of the University of California at Berkeley from 1958 until 1961 when he was called by President-elect John F. Kennedy to chair the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission, a position he held until 1971. Seaborg led the negotiations resulting in the limited nuclear test ban treaty prohibiting the testing of nuclear devices in the atmosphere or under the sea, approved by the U.S. Senate in 1963. He strongly supported the use of nuclear energy as