British organic chemist, who was awarded the 1947 Nobel Prize for Chemistry for his work on the structure of a number of biologically active plant extracts. He was knighted in 1937, appointed to the OM in 1949, and served as president of the Royal Society from 1945 to 1950.
The son of a manufacturer of surgical dressings, who was also one of the inventors of cotton wool, Robinson was educated at Manchester University, where he obtained his doctorate in 1910. He held chairs of organic chemistry at Sydney (1912–15), Liverpool (1915–20), St Andrews (1921–22), Manchester (1922–28), and London (1928–30), before being appointed in 1930 Waynflete Professor of Chemistry at Oxford, where he remained until his retirement in 1955.
Robinson's early work concerned the structure and synthesis of plant pigments. He moved on to study plant alkaloids and in 1925 worked out the chemical structure of morphine. He also worked on strychnine, cholesterol, vitamin D, and the steroids. Robinson is regarded as one of the founders of modern organic chemistry and was responsible for a number of new reactions and syntheses.
Subjects: Contemporary History (Post 1945) — Science and Mathematics.