Kistiakowsky, George B. (George Bogdan), 1900-1982

Alternative names
Dates:
Birth 1900-11-18
Death 1982-12-07
Americans
English

Biographical notes:

Physical chemist. Special Assistant to the President for Science and Technology, 1959-1961.

From the description of Diary, 1959-1960 (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 84398466

George Bogdan Kistiakowsky (1900-1982) was a Ukrainian-born American chemist. He was not only a renowned in academic circles, but was also a consultant, defense researcher, and public policy advisor. Abbott and James Lawrence Professor of Chemistry at Harvard University, Kistiakowsky was also a participant in the development of the atomic bomb known as the Manhattan Project, a recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, and in later years, a political activist, most notably concerned with the arms race as an advocate for banning nuclear weapons. Kistiakowsky was born in Kiev, Ukraine (then a province of Russia) on November 18, 1900. He attended private schools in Kiev and Moscow until the revolutionary events of 1917 disrupted his education. After serving as soldier in the White Russian Army and spending a year in the concentration camps of Turkey and the Balkans, Kistiakowsky finally found refuge in Germany, where he attended the University of Berlin . He studied physical chemistry under Max Bodenstein and received his doctorate in 1925. In the following year, Kistiakowsky came to the United States on an International Education Board Fellowship. After teaching at Princeton for two years, he joined the Harvard faculty as an assistant professor of chemistry in 1930. His work in the fields of thermodynamics, spectroscopy, and chemical kinetics brought him involvement as a military researcher, corporate consultant, and policy advisor. At the same time, he remained actively engaged in academia. He rose to the rank of professor in 1938, chaired the Department of Chemistry from 1947 to 1950, and maintained a busy schedule of teaching and research until his retirement in 1971. During the World War II, influenced by James B. Conant, President of Harvard University, Kistiakowsky served as chief of the Explosives Division of the National Defense Research Committee . In 1944 , he was recruited to join the Manhattan Project at Los Alamos, where he was responsible for designing the triggering device that used conventional explosives to detonate the atomic bomb. In the postwar years, he became a member of several military advisory boards in Washington. Between 1957 and 1964, he served on the President''s Science Advisory Committee and was Special Assistant to the President for the Science and Technology from 1959 to 1961. Kistiakowsky was also a member of the U.S. delegation in Geneva during 1958, when the two superpowers discussed ways to reduce the danger of surprise nuclear attack. Increasingly concerned with public policy issues, he worked to influence the allocation of government resources through his participation in the National Academy of Sciences (NAS). Kistiakowsky served as chairman of its Committee on Science and Public Policy (COSPUP) from 1962 to 1965, then as vice-president of NAS from 1965 to 1973. At first he worked within channels to influence policy, but he became less and less sanguine about prospects that administrations in Washington would heed voices of dissent. In 1968, in protest against the course of U.S. involvement in Vietnam, Kistiakowsky severed his connections with the Pentagon . He shifted his efforts to electoral campaigns and advocacy group politics. After his retirement, he devoted himself even more fully to political activism. From 1977 until his death in 1982, he served as chairman of Council for Livable World , campaigning to de-escalate the arms race and reorient the domestic political agenda. Kistiakowsky received much recognition for his role as a scientist and as a citizen. He was the recipient of numerous honorary degrees and awards, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Joseph Priestly Award of the American Chemical Society. His presence on many boards, including his positions as director of Itek Corporation and Cabot Corporation attest to his prominence.

From the description of Kistiakowsky, George B. (George Bogdan), 1900-1982 (U.S. National Archives and Records Administration). naId: 10677878

George Bogdan Kistiakowsky (1900-1982), who worked on the developing the first atomic bomb and later became an advocate for banning nuclear weapons, was Abbott and James Lawrence Professor of Chemistry at Harvard University. He served as science adviser to President Eisenhower from July 1959 to 1961, and on the advisory board to the United States Arms Control and Disarmament Agency from 1962 to 1969. Born in Russia, he became a member of the White Russian army and later fled the country. He completed his Ph.D at the University of Berlin, then came to the United States in 1926. He spent four years at Princeton University before coming to Harvard. He became professor of chemistry in 1938, chairing the department from 1947 to 1950. Influenced by James B. Conant, President of Harvard University, Kistiakowsky became chief of the explosives division at Los Alamos, N.M. He designed the conventional explosives that detonated the atomic bomb.

From the description of Papers of George B. Kistiakowsky, ca. 1928-1982 (inclusive). (Harvard University). WorldCat record id: 76976655

George Bogdan Kistiakowsky ( 1917-1982 ) was a Ukrainian-born American chemist. He was not only a renowned in academic circles, but was also a consultant, defense researcher, and public policy advisor. Abbott and James Lawrence Professor of Chemistry at Harvard University, Kistiakowsky was also a participant in the development of the atomic bomb known as the Manhattan Project, a recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, and in later years, a political activist, most notably concerned with the arms race as an advocate for banning nuclear weapons.

Kistiakowsky was born in Kiev, Ukraine (then a province of Russia ) on November 18, 1900. He attended private schools in Kiev and Moscow until the revolutionary events of 1917 disrupted his education. After serving as soldier in the White Russian Army and spending a year in the concentration camps of Turkey and the Balkans, Kistiakowsky finally found refuge in Germany, where he attended the University of Berlin .

He studied physical chemistry under Max Bodenstein and received his doctorate in 1925. In the following year, Kistiakowsky came to the United States on an International Education Board Fellowship. After teaching at Princeton for two years, he joined the Harvard faculty as an assistant professor of chemistry in 1930.

His work in the fields of thermodynamics, spectroscopy, and chemical kinetics brought him involvement as a military researcher, corporate consultant, and policy advisor . At the same time, he remained actively engaged in academia. He rose to the rank of professor in 1938, chaired the Department of Chemistry from 1947 to 1950, and maintained a busy schedule of teaching and research until his retirement in 1971.

During the World War II, influenced by James B. Conant, President of Harvard University, Kistiakowsky served as chief of the Explosives Division of the National Defense Research Committee . In 1944 , he was recruited to join the Manhattan Project at Los Alamos, where he was responsible for designing the triggering device that used conventional explosives to detonate the atomic bomb .

In the postwar years, he became a member of several military advisory boards in Washington. Between 1957 and 1964, he served on the President's Science Advisory Committee and was Special Assistant to the President for the Science and Technology from 1959 to 1961. Kistiakowsky was also a member of the U.S. delegation in Geneva during 1958, when the two superpowers discussed ways to reduce the danger of surprise nuclear attack .

Increasingly concerned with public policy issues, he worked to influence the allocation of government resources through his participation in the National Academy of Sciences (NAS). Kistiakowsky served as chairman of its Committee on Science and Public Policy (COSPUP) from 1962 to 1965, then as vice-president of NAS from 1965 to 1973.

At first he worked within channels to influence policy, but he became less and less sanguine about prospects that administrations in Washington would heed voices of dissent. In 1968, in protest against the course of U.S. involvement in Vietnam, Kistiakowsky severed his connections with the Pentagon . He shifted his efforts to electoral campaigns and advocacy group politics . After his retirement, he devoted himself even more fully to political activism . From 1977 until his death in 1982, he served as chairman of Council for Livable World , campaigning to de-escalate the arms race and reorient the domestic political agenda .

Kistiakowsky received much recognition for his role as a scientist and as a citizen. He was the recipient of numerous honorary degrees and awards, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Joseph Priestly Award of the American Chemical Society . His presence on many boards, including his positions as director of Itek Corporation and Cabot Corporation attest to his prominence. He died on December 7, 1982.

From the guide to the Papers of George B. Kistiakowsky, ca., (inclusive), 1928-1932, (Harvard University Archives)

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Subjects:

  • Science and state--United States
  • Nuclear energy
  • Scientists in government--United States--Personal narratives
  • Arms control
  • Nuclear weapons
  • Chemistry--Study and teaching
  • Science--Political aspects--United States

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  • Public officials
  • Science consultants

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