Nobel Prize in Chemistry
Wilhelm Exner Medal (
The University of Tartu
Nobel Prize certificate for Wilhelm Ostwald
Wilhelm Ostwald graduated from the University of Dorpat (now the University of Tartu), Estonia, in 1875. He also earned his Doctor of Philosophy at the University of Dorpat in 1878, with Carl Schmidt as his thesis advisor. During this time, he also taught at Co-Arc from 1875 to 1881 and at Riga Polytechnicum from 1881 to 1887.
Wilhelm Ostwald began his career as an independent investigator in 1875 while at the University of Dorpat (now the University of Tartu). His initial research focused on mass action, chemical affinity, electrochemistry, and chemical dynamics. He continued this research in 1877 as an unpaid investigator at the University of Dorpat, working in the Physics Institute and the Chemistry Laboratory at the university.
In 1881, Wilhelm Ostwald became a full-time Professor of Chemistry at the Polytechnicum in Riga. In 1887, he became a Professor of Physical Chemistry at Leipzig University. He remained on the faculty at Leipzig University until his retirement in 1906. He also served as the first "exchange professor" at Harvard University in 1904 and 1905.
In 1887, Wilhelm Ostwald moved to Leipzig where he worked for the rest of his life. He died in a hospital in Leipzig on 4 April 1932 and was buried at his house in Großbothen, near Leipzig, and then in the Great Cemetery of Riga.
In 1906 Ostwald was elected a member of the International Committee on Atomic Weights. As a consequence of World War I this membership ended in 1917 and was not resumed after the war.
On 24 April 1880, Wilhelm Ostwald married Helene von Reyher (1854-1946), with whom he had five children. These were: Grete, (1882- 1960) born in Riga and died in Großbothen; Wolfgang (1883-1943) born 1883 in Riga and died in Dresden; Elisabeth (1884-1968) born in Riga and died in Großbothen; Walter (1886-1958) born in Riga and died in Freiburg im Breisgau; and Carl Otto (1890-1958) born in Leipzig and died in Leipzig. Wolfgang Ostwald also became a notable scientist.