George A. Olah life and biography

George A. Olah picture, image, poster

George A. Olah biography

Date of birth : 1927-05-22
Date of death : -
Birthplace : Budapest, Hungary
Nationality : American
Category : Science and Technology
Last modified : 2011-09-21
Credited as : chemist, Nobel Prize for Chemistry,

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American chemist George A. Olah was awarded the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1994. He was educated at Budapest University of Technology and Economics but left his homeland after the Hungarian Uprising of 1956. While working at Dow Chemical's laboratories, he devised a method for extending the intermediate phase of rapid hydrocarbon reactions, and found that the introduction of an extremely strong acid could preserve carbocations (ions with a positively-charged carbon atom) for as long as months. His work allowed the mass production of synthesized high-octane gasoline, and uncovered new ways for the petroleum industry to use hydrocarbons.

His research involves the generation and reactivity of carbocations via superacids. For this research, Olah was awarded a Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1994. He has also been awarded the Priestley Medal, the highest honor granted by the American Chemical Society.

Olah is currently a distinguished professor at the University of Southern California and the director of the Loker Hydrocarbon Research Institute. In 2005, Olah wrote an essay promoting the methanol economy.

The Olah family formed an endowment fund (the George A. Olah Endowment) which grants annual awards to outstanding chemists. The awards are selected and administered by the American Chemical Society.


Dow Chemical Research Chemist, Framington, MA (1964-65)
Dow Chemical Research Chemist, Sarnia, Ontario (1957-64)
Hungarian Academy of Sciences Organic Chemist (1954-56)
Lee Hendrik Baekeland Award 1967
ACS Henry Morley Medal 1970
Guggenheim Fellowship 1972, 1988
California Scientist of the Year 1989
Nobel Prize for Chemistry 1994
ACS F. A. Cotton Medal 1996
ACS Arthur C. Cope Award 2001
Order of the Rising Sun 2003
Priestley Medal 2005
Hungarian Order of Pro Merit 2006
American Academy of Arts and Sciences 2002
American Chemical Society
American Philosophical Society 2002
Bush-Cheney '04
European Academy of Sciences and Arts 1989
George W. Bush for President
Japan Society for the Promotion of Science Foreign Member, 1974
John McCain 2008
National Academy of Sciences 1976

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