MacArthur Fellows Program

R. Stephen Berry

Physical Chemist | Class of February 1983

R. Stephen Berry is a physical chemist who has contributed to the understanding of the atomic origins of freezing, melting, crystallization, and glass formation; how electrons and photons interact with molecules; and how to make efficient use of energy and the environment.

Berry’s work concerns the economic implications of resource management and the application of thermodynamics to achieve optimum performance of engines and processes.  He is the author of numerous articles and several books, including Understanding Energy: Energy, Entropy and Thermodynamics for Everyman (1991), Water and Energy as Linked Resources (co-author, 1978), TOSCA: Optimizing the Mix of Fossil and Nuclear Plants from Total Social Cost (1979), and Physical Chemistry (1980).  His recent work ranges from basic research on atomic and molecular collisions, nanoscale materials, and protein dynamics to activities concerning national security and intellectual property issues.

Berry is the James Franck Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus in the Department of Chemistry and the James Franck Institute at the University of Chicago.  He also serves as a special advisor to the director for national security at Argonne National Laboratory.

Berry received an A.B. (1952), M.A. (1954), and Ph.D. (1956) from Harvard University.

Recent News

Now 84 years old, R. Stephen Berry is still teaching (with an economist colleague, G. Tolley) a course on Energy and Energy Policy, still doing some research at the University of Chicago, and still managing to ski (although not at the earlier level of challenge). He splits his time between Chicago and summers in Aspen and Telluride, and he participates in an amateur early music group, I Freschi Baldi, that meets weekly to play recorders and violin.

Updated August 2015

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