Prize Recipient

Recipient Picture

David Wixon Pratt
University of Pittsburgh


"For pioneering work in ultrahigh resolution ultraviolet spectroscopy of cold molecules in beams that elucidated the structure and isomerization dynamics of a wide range of large molecules, molecular vibrational dynamics, and hydrogen bonding."


Dr. Pratt received his A.B. in Chemistry at Princeton University in 1959. He served as a fleet officer in the U.S. Navy in 1959-62. His Ph.D. (1967) is from the University of California at Berkeley, where he worked wilth R. J. Myers in the field of magnetic resonance. He then moved to the University of California at Santa Barbara as an NIH postdoctoral fellow with H. P. Broida in optical spectroscopy. In 1968, he joined the University of Pittsburgh where he is currently Professor of Chemistry.

Dr. Pratt's research in high resolution electronic spectroscopy uses lasers, molecular beams, and high speed data acquisition systems to study the structures and dynamical behaviors of a wide range of isolated large molecules and their clusters at unparalleled spectral resolution, ~ 1MHz in the UV. Using this approach, he and his students have demonstrated that even very large molecules have well-defined eigenstates at energies of 3-4 eV, and that studies of these states provide unique information about molecular size and shape, about intermolecular interactions, and about the dynamical behavior of molecules following the absorption of light. Currently, his research group is focusing on chemical reaction dynamics, and on the eigenstates that participate in the light-induced transformations of reactants into products.

Dr. Pratt is a Fellow of the American Physical Society, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and a member of the American Chemical Society. He has been a Fulbright Fellow (U. Leiden), a Guggenheim Fellow (U. Washington and U. Nijmegen), a Fellow of the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (Kyoto U.) and a Fellow of Exeter College (Oxford U.). He received the Chancellor's Distinguished Teaching Award at the University of Pittsburgh in 1994. Dr. Pratt has been or is currently serving on the editorial boards of a number of scientific journals, is an active member of several international advisory boards, and most recently (1997) chaired the Gordon Conference on Molecular Electronic Spectroscopy and Dynamics in Oxford.

Selection Committee:

Roger Ervin Miller (Chair), Peter Mark Felker, David J. Nesbitt ('97 Recipient), Paul A. Alivisatos (Vice Chair), James L. Skinner