Glenn T. Seaborg
Contributions to Advancing Science

Resources with Additional Information · Patents

Glenn T. Seaborg
Courtesy of Lawrence Berkeley
National Laboratory
"This is the greatest honor ever bestowed upon me–even better, I think, than winning the Nobel Prize."
- Glenn T. Seaborg, about the naming of Element 106 seaborgium, the first time an element was named for a living person.

Glenn T. Seaborg was born April 19, 1912, in Ishpeming, Michigan. He was educated at the University of California (UC), Los Angeles (B.A.) and the University of California, Berkeley (Ph.D.). "His life-long association with the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory [LBNL] began in 1934 when, as a graduate student, he went to work at the UC Radiation Laboratory (the forerunner to LBNL). He joined the UC Berkeley faculty in 1939 and, following his time at the AEC [Atomic Energy Commission] helm, returned to Berkeley where he continued his search for new elements and isotopes." 1

In 1940, Seaborg, in collaboration with Edwin McMillan, Joseph Kennedy, and Arthur Wahl, isolated plutonium (element 94). In 1941, he isolated Uranium-233 and established thorium's nuclear fuel potential. "In 1944, Seaborg formulated the 'actinide concept' of heavy element electronic structure which predicted that the actinides – including the first eleven transuranium elements – would form a transition series analogous to the rare earth series of lanthanide elements. Called one of the most significant changes in the periodic table since Mendeleev's 19th century design, the actinide concept showed how the transuranium elements fit into the periodic table." 1

Glenn T. Seaborg
Courtesy of Lawrence Berkeley
National Laboratory

Between 1944 and 1958, Seaborg identified eight elements – americium (95), curium (96), berkelium (97), californium (98), einsteinium (99), fermium (100), mendelevium (101), and nobelium (102). Element 106, seaborgium, bears his name.

In 1951, Seaborg shared the Nobel Prize in Chemistry with E.M. McMillan for "for their discoveries in the chemistry of the transuranium elements". Between 1961 and 1971, Seaborg was the chairman of the AEC, a predecessor agency of the Department of Energy (DOE). Seaborg was active in national service, advising ten presidents from Franklin D. Roosevelt through George H. W. Bush. Seaborg died on February 25, 1999, at the age of 86.


Resources with Additional Information

Additional information about Glenn Seaborg and his work is available in full-text DOE reports and on the Web.


The First Weighing of Plutonium (Atomic Number 94); DOE Technical Report; September 1967

The New Element Americium (Atomic Number 95); DOE Technical Report; January 1948

The New Element Curium (Atomic Number 96); DOE Technical Report; January 1948

Frontiers of Chemistry for Americium and Curium; DOE Technical Report; January 1984

The New Element Berkelium (Atomic Number 97); DOE Technical Report; April 1950

The New Element Californium (Atomic Number 98); DOE Technical Report; June 1950

Chemical Properties of Elements 99 and 100 (Einsteinium and Fermium); DOE Technical Report; July 1954

Symposium Commemorating the 25th Anniversary of the Discovery of Mendelevium (Atomic Number 101); DOE Technical Report; March 1980

The Transuranium Elements – Present Status: Nobel Lecture; DOE Technical Report; December 1951

Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Energy; DOE Technical Report; July 1970

Element 106 (Seaborgium), Physical Review Letters Vol. 33, Issue 25:1490-1493; December 16, 1974

Plutonium Story; DOE Technical Report; September 1981

Transuranium Elements: a Half Century; DOE Technical Report; August 1990

Special Lecture in Memory of Glenn Theodore Seaborg (19 April 1912 - 25 February 1999) Glenn T. Seaborg's Multi-faceted Career; DOE Technical Report; November 2001


Seaborg Honored:

1959 Enrico Fermi Award

Seaborgium – The 106th element in the Periodic Table, named for Glenn T. Seaborg

UCLA Seaborg Medal – The Glenn T. Seaborg Medal was established in 1987 by the UCLA Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry to honor individuals for their significant contributions to chemistry and biochemistry.

ANS Seaborg Medal – The American Nuclear Society (ANS) Seaborg Medal "recognizes exceptional achievement and excellence in science or engineering research in nuclear-related fields."

The Glenn T. Seaborg Institute (GTSI) – was established in 1991 when the University of California approved a joint Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL)/Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) Institute Charter. In 1997, a branch was established at the Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL). Currently each laboratory has its own on-site Seaborg institute. LLNL concentrates on nuclear and bionuclear science; LBNL focuses on the impact of radionuclides in the environment; and LANL stresses nuclear science studies of plutonium and heavier elements.

1991 National Medal of Science

The Glenn T. Seaborg Center for Teaching and Learning Science and Mathematics – The mission of the Glenn T. Seaborg Center is to enrich the knowledge and understanding of the general public in the areas of science and mathematics, particularly that of students and teachers from preschool through college.


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