Department of Chemistry

John Ulric Nef, Sr., first head of the Department of Chemistry at the University, was a Swiss born chemist whose parents immigrated to the United States, studied chemistry first at Harvard University. Nef completed a Ph.D. under the direction of Adolph von Baeyer at the University of Munich and held faculty positions at Purdue University and Clark University before coming to the University of Chicago in 1892. He was not officially named head of the Department of Chemistry until 1896, having a somewhat difficult relationship with President Harper.

Nef and Son

From the Photographic Archive, Special Collections Research Center, University of Chicago Library. Available at: Identifier: apf1-01110

Pictured here in the Kent Chemical Laboratory with his son, John Ulric Nef, Jr. (later to become a professor of economic history and one of the founders of the Committee on Social Thought)