Theodore Richards was the first American to win the Nobel Prize in Chemistry. He was awarded it in 1914 for accurately determining the atomic weight of 25 elements.
The early years
Theodore Richards was born on January 31st, 1868 in Germantown, Pennsylvania. He studied at the Haverford University in Pennsylvania where he graduated as a Bachelor of Science in 1885. This was followed by further studies from Harvard University, where he eventually became an instructor in 1891 and finally a professor in 1901.
Determination of atomic weights and other work
Richards made huge contributions in accurately determining atomic weights of various elements. He invented the nephelometer, an instrument used to measure suspended particles. He is also responsible for having revised the figures of atomic weights which were earlier used. Richards investigated whether different sources of lead had different atomic weights. His research has also helped in calculating the atomic weight of isotopes. All his later work included the physical properties of solid elements; he also did work on atomic volumes and compressibility.
Theodore Richards won several honours and awards throughout his life. To name a few, the Nobel Prize in Chemistry (1914), Franklin Medal (1916), Le Blanc Medal (1922), President of the American Chemical Society (1914), and he was also the President of the American Association of the Advancement of Science and American Academy of Arts and Sciences.