Jul 9, 2020
Norman "Lou" Allinger
Professor Norman “Lou” Allinger (University of Georgia), pioneer of molecular mechanics, PhD with Donald Cram at UCLA, dies at age 92.
Norman L. Allinger was born in 1928 in Alameda, California. He received his B.S. degree in chemistry from Berkeley and received his Ph.D. at UCLA under the direction of Nobelist Donald Cram, in 1954. He published six papers with Cram on paracyclophane chemistry. At that time he was a synthetic chemist, but Westheimer was demonstrating that force fields could be used to explore organic chemistry. Allinger postdocked at Harvard with Paul Bartlett, then joined the faculty at Wayne State University and began his developments of molecular mechanics methods, as well as writing a well-known organic chemistry text, and then joined the University of Georgia as Research Professor. He was the first Editor of the Journal of Computational Chemistry.
Allinger was best known for his pioneering efforts in the use of computational chemistry, especially molecular mechanics, to solve a variety of chemical problems. He was the senior author of the MM2, MM3, and MM4 molecular mechanics software packages. MM2 was the most influential and widely used empirical force field before Peter Kollman’s AMBER. Allinger’s 1977 paper on the MM2 method has been cited an amazing 4223 times. He was honored with many awards and was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 1991.
Professor Ken Houk said of Allinger’s personality and influence on chemistry: “Lou Allinger was a very soft-spoken and gentle person, but a powerful intellect, and someone whose discoveries live on in the computer programs that my group and many scientists all over the world use for their research. With Fritz Schaefer and Paul Schleyer, Lou Allinger created a powerful computational center at the University of Georgia.”
Penny Jennings, UCLA Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry, penny@chem.ucla.edu.