Skip to main content

Lambert, Joseph B.



Joseph Lambert was born July 4, 1940 in Fort Sheridan, Illinois, and grew up in San Antonio, Texas, where he resided until his graduation from Alamo Heights High School in 1958. Following his high school graduation, Lambert attended Yale University, where he was advised by renowned chemist William von Eggers Doering, and earned a Bachelor’s degree in chemistry summa cum laude in 1962. After Yale, Lambert continued his studies of Chemistry at the California Institute of Technology, receiving his doctorate in 1965.

In 1965 he began working at Northwestern University, where he spent the rest of his career. At Northwestern he was director of the Integrated Science Program (1982–1985), chairman of the Chemistry Department (1986–1989), and Charles Deering McCormick Professor of Teaching Excellence (1999–2003). Lambert held the position of Clare Hamilton Hall Professor of Chemistry from 1991 until his retirement in 2010.

Lambert’s research includes organosilicon and other main group organic chemistry, organic reaction mechanisms, nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy, and the applications of analytical chemistry to archeology. He is the author of one American Chemical Society (ACS) audio course, and over 340 publications in professional journals. He was the founder and editor-in-chief of the Journal of Physical Organic Chemistry and has served on the editorial boards of Organometallics, Archaeometry, Magnetic Resonance in Chemistry, Arts and Sciences, International X-Ray Emission Spectroscopy, and Society for Archaeological Sciences Bulletin. Over the course of his career, Lambert was the author of numerous books, and was the chairman of the ACS Subdivision of Archaeological Chemistry of the Division of the History of Chemistry, and the president of the Society of Archaeological Sciences.

In 1973, Lambert was a Guggenheim Fellow at the Research Laboratory of the British Museum, and, in 1976, he received the National Fresenius Award. In 1989, he received the Fryxell Award from the Society for American Archaeology in recognition of his chemical contributions to archaeology. He was the 1998 recipient of the Frederic Stanley Kipping Award in Silicon Chemistry of the American Chemical Society (ACS) and in 2012 was named a Fellow of the American Chemical Society. He received the Carol and Harry Mosher Award of the Santa Clara Valley Section of the ACS in 2003 and the Sidney M. Edelstein Award for Outstanding Achievements in the History of Chemistry by the ACS in 2004. He has been the author of thirteen books and over 375 publications in scientific journals. His book Traces of the Past was a selection of the Natural Science Book Club. He was the founder of the Journal of Physical Organic Chemistry and served as editor-in-chief for 23 years. He is past chairman of the ACS Subdivision of Archaeological Chemistry, past president of the Society of Archaeological Sciences, past chairman of his department, and past chairman of the ACS Division of the History of Chemistry. A strong advocate of the combination of research and teaching, he has won a number of teaching awards, including the James Flack Norris Award of the American Chemical Society (1987), the E. Leroy Hall Award of the College of Arts and Sciences of Northwestern University (1991), the National Catalyst Award of the Chemical Manufacturers Association (1993), and the Northwestern University Alumni Award (1994). From 1999 to 2002 he was Charles Deering McCormick Professor of Teaching Excellence at Northwestern. His major scientific contributions include the creation of the first silyl cation (the silicon analogue of the carbocation), elucidation of the mechanism of beta-silyl stabilization of carbocations, discovery of inductive enhancement of solvolytic participation, creation of new methods of conformational analysis by nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy (the R value), understanding the conformations of cyclic molecules containing heteroatoms, and development of chemical methods to examine archaeological materials.

After retiring from Northwestern University in 2010, Lambert continued his research at Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas.

Found in 1 Collection or Record:

Joseph B. Lambert Collection

Identifier: 11/3/8/8

Joseph Lambert joined the Northwestern University chemistry faculty in 1965, where taught until his retirement in 2010. The Joseph B. Lambert Collection includes biographical information, subject files, student records, manuscripts, and correspondence.

Dates: 1944-2011; Other: Date acquired: 01/06/2010