© The Nobel Foundation
Alan J. Heeger

American Jewish Recipients of the Nobel Prize

Alan J. Heeger: Nobel Prize in
Chemistry Recipient-2000

by Seymour “Sy” Brody

Alan J. Heeger is an American Jewish recipient of the Nobel Prize in Chemistry, 2000, which he shared with Alan G. MacDiarmid and Hideki Shirakawa for their discovery and development of conductive polymers.

He was born on January 22, 1936, in Sioux City, IA. His father was four years old when his family came from Russia to the United States in 1904. His mother was the first child born here from her Jewish immigrant parents. Heeger’s father was the proprietor of a store.

Heeger was raised in Akron, Iowa, where he received his early education. It was in high school that he met his wife, Ruth. They were married in 1957 and they had two sons Peter and David.

He received his B.S. Degree from the University of Nebraska, in 1957. He then went to the University of California, Berkeley, where he received his PhD. In Physics, 1961.

After graduation, he joined the staff at the University of Pennsylvania, 1962-1982. It was here that he started his research which led to his Nobel Prize Award for Chemistry.

He went to the University of California to build a Physics Department. He has remained here all of these years which included doing research.

Alan J. Heeger has received many awards and honors:
● A Fellow in the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, 1963-65
● Associate Professor, University of Pennsylvania, 1964-1967
● Professor, University of Pennsylvania, 1967-1982
● Fellow of the American Physical Society, 1968
● Fellow of the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation, 1968-1969
● Visiting Professor of Physics, University of Geneva, 1968-1969
● Morris Loeb Visiting Lecturer in Physics, Harvard, 1973
● National Academy Exchange Scholar, USSR, 1977
● Yamada Science Foundation Exchange Scholar, 1978
● Director, Laboratory for Research for the structure of Matter, University of Pennsylvania, 1978-81
● Acting Vice-Provost for Research, University of Pennsylvania, 1981-1982
● Professor of Physics, 1981
● Adjunct Professor of Physics, University of Utah, 1988
● John Scott Award and Medal, 1989
● Founder and President of UNIAX Corporation, Santa Barbara CA, 1990
● Honorary Doctor of Science, University of Mons, Belgium 1992
● Charles A. Stiefvater Lectureship Award, University of Nebraska, 1994
● Balzan Prize of “Science of New Materials,” Bern, Switzerland, 1995
● Doctor of Technology, University of Linkoping, Sweden, 1996
● Doctor of Science, Abo Akademie University, Turku, Finland, 1998

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