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Leopold Ruzicka

Leopold RuzickaAKA Lavoslav Stephen Ruzicka

Born: 13-Sep-1887
Birthplace: Vukovar, Croatia
Died: 26-Sep-1976
Location of death: Zürich, Switzerland
Cause of death: unspecified

Gender: Male
Race or Ethnicity: White
Sexual orientation: Straight
Occupation: Chemist

Nationality: Switzerland
Executive summary: Terpenes and hormones

Leopold Ruzicka studied under Hermann Staudinger, and received the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1939 (shared with Adolf Butenandt) for work showing that terpenes and some other large organic molecules are comprised of multiple units of isoprene. His position at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zürich was unpaid until 1925, so until then he supported himself by working in the chemistry laboratory of a perfume company. While working with odors and essences he discovered in 1916 that muscone and civetone contain rings of 15 and 17 carbon atoms, respectively. Prior to this finding, it had been generally accepted that rings of more than eight atoms would be too unstable to exist.

His father was Croatian, his mother German, and he became a Swiss citizen in 1917. In the 1930s he unraveled the molecular structure discovered the molecular structure of the sex hormones androsterone (1934), progesterone (1934), and testosterone (1935). During World War II he was a founding member of the Swiss-Yugoslav Relief Society, and worked to rescue Jewish scientists from Nazi Germany. He was later politically active in protests against the accumulation of atomic weapons. According to his biography at the Nobel Prize website, his last name is approximately pronounced "Rougitchka".

Father: Stjepan Ruzicka (cooper, d. 1891)
Mother: Ljubica Sever
Wife: Anna Hausmann (m. 1912, div. 1950, no children)
Wife: Gertrud Acklin (m. 1951, no children)

    High School: Osijek High School, Osijek, Croatia
    University: University of Karlsruhe (1910)
    Lecturer: Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Zürich (1912-23)
    Professor: Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Zürich (1923-26)
    Professor: Organic Chemistry, University of Utrecht (1926-29)
    Professor: Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Zürich (1929-57)

    Nobel Prize for Chemistry 1939 (with Adolf Butenandt)
    Croatian Academy of Sciences and Arts
    Royal Society Foreign Member (1942)
    Naturalized Swiss Citizen 1917
    Austrian Ancestry
    Croatian Ancestry Paternal
    Czech Ancestry
    German Ancestry Maternal

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