Otto Wallach

(1847-1931)


Otto Wallach was born on March 27, 1847, in Königsberg, Prussia (now a part of Russia). Wallach was awarded the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1910 for his work on alicyclic compounds and aromatic essential oils. He is most recognized for his studies in aniline dyes and his pioneer work in organic chemistry.

In 1865, he went to the University of Göttingen to study chemistry, but soon moved to Berlin to be an understudy to A.W. Hoffman and G. Magnus. After a semester in Berlin, Wallach returned to Göttingen to receive his doctorate after only five semesters of studying and research.

In 1870, Wallach had to leave his studies for military service in the Franco-Prussian War. After the war, he returned to Berlin to work in the firm "Aktien-Gesellschaft für Anilin-Fabrikation" (later "Agfa"). Due to the chemicals in the factory, however, Wallach left Berlin in 1872 and moved to University of Bonn where he remained for the next several decades. It is there where he began his work on organic chemistry. In 1876, Wallach was appointed Professor Extraordinary.

In 1884, Wallach wrote his first publication on the puzzlement of the range of various members of the C10H16 group. In 1889, he was made the Director of the Chemical Institute at Göttingen. For many years Wallach studied the structure and characters of alicyclic compounds, including hydrogen chloride. Wallach spent much of his research on the molecular structure of essential oils. He separated from the oils a group of fragrant materials that he called terepenes. In 1909, he published his results and conclusions in Terpene und Campher. It was this study of essential oils that would pave the way for future perfume industries. Finally, after years of service, Wallach retired from work in 1915.

Beyond receiving the Nobel Prize, Wallach was honored with numerous other awards. These honors included the Honorary Fellowships of the Chemical Society in 1908 and the Davy Medal in gold and silver in 1912. Otto Wallach died in Göttingen on February 26, 1931, at the age of 90.


Sources: Wikipedia; "Otto Wallach Biography"; britannica; Wigoder, Geoffrey , Ed. The New Standard Jewish Encyclopedia. NY: Facts on File, 1992 .