Robert F. Curl, Ph.D., is a Baker Institute Rice scholar, as well as the Kenneth S. Pitzer-Schlumberger Professor of Natural Sciences Emeritus and University Professor Emeritus at Rice University. Curl’s research focus is in physical chemistry, where his research activities have been in several fields, with the most consistent theme being high-resolution spectroscopy.
He is most well known as one of the co-discoverers of the carbon cage compounds called the fullerenes, for which he and his collaborators, Sir Harold Kroto and the late Richard Smalley, were awarded the 1996 Nobel Prize in chemistry.Curl began his teaching career at Rice as an assistant professor in 1958, became an associate professor in 1963, and a full professor in 1967. He was the Harry C. and Olga K. Wiess Professor of Natural Sciences from 1996 to 2002.
He served as chair of the Chemistry Department from 1992 to 1996, and as master of Lovett College at Rice from 1968 to 1972. Curl graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in 1954 from Rice (then known as Rice Institute). He received his Ph.D. at the University of California, Berkeley, in 1957, and was a researchfellow at Harvard University from 1957 to 1958.