Melvin Calvin

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Calvin, Melvin,

1911–97, American organic chemist and educator, b. St. Paul, Minn., grad. Michigan College of Mining and Technology, 1931, Ph.D. Univ. of Minnesota, 1935. In 1937 he joined the faculty at the Univ. of California, where he became director (1946) of the bioorganic division of the Lawrence Radiation Laboratory (which became the Laboratory of Chemical Biodynamics in 1960) and professor (1947) of chemistry. For his work in determining the chemical reactions that occur when a plant assimilates carbon dioxide, Calvin was awarded the 1961 Nobel Prize in Chemistry. His writings include The Photosynthesis of Carbon Compounds (with J. A. Bassham, 1962) and Chemical Evolution (1969).

Calvin, Melvin


Born Apr. 7, 1911, in St. Paul, Minn. American biochemist. Member of the National Academy of Sciences in Washington, D. C.

Calvin graduated from the Michigan College of Mining and Technology in 1931. Beginning in 1937 he taught in the chemistry division of the University of California (Berkeley), where he became a professor in 1947. In the 1940’s he began working on the problem of photosynthesis. By 1957, using CO2 with a carbon tracer, he explained the chemical process by which plants assimilate CO2 (the Calvin carbon reduction cycle) during photosynthesis. He was awarded the Nobel Prize for chemistry in 1961. Calvin is a foreign member of the London Royal Society and an honorary member of many foreign societies and academies of sciences.


Chemical Evolution. Eugene, Ore., 1961.
The Path of Carbon in Photosynthesis. Englewood Cliffs, N.J., 1957. (With J. A. Bassham.)
The Photosynthesis of Carbon Compounds. New York, 1962. (With J. A. Bassham.)

Calvin, Melvin

(1911–  ) organic chemist; born in St. Paul, Minn. He became a professor of chemistry at the University of California (1947–71) and head of its Lawrence Radiation Laboratory (1963–80). By combining the techniques of carbon-14 testing and paper chromatography, he traced the intermediate reactions in carbon dioxide assimilation and oxygen release in plants during photosynthesis. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in chemistry (1961) for this work.