Robert G. Bergman

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Robert George Bergman
AwardsWolf Prize in Chemistry (2017)

Robert George Bergman (born May 23, 1942) is an American chemist.

Early life and education[edit]

Born in Chicago, Robert Bergman was the son of Joseph J. and Stella Bergman, née Horowitz. In 1963 he graduated from Carleton College with a degree in chemistry. Under the supervision of Jerome A. Berson, he received a PhD in 1966 from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. From 1966 to 1967 he was a postdoctoral student at Ronald Breslow's laboratory at Columbia University, New York City.


Bergman joined the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) in Pasadena where he was an Arthur Research Instructor (1967–1969), assistant professor (1969–1971), associate professor (1971–1973), and full professor (1973–1977). From 1977 to 2002 he was a chemistry professor at the University of California, Berkeley and since 1978 has also been a researcher at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. Since 2002 he has been Gerald E. K. Branch Professor of Chemistry.


Bergman works in the field of organic chemistry. He first investigated the reaction mechanisms of organic reactions at Caltech. He developed methods for the representation of very reactive molecules, for example 1,3-diradicals and vinyl cations. In 1972, he discovered the thermal cyclization of cis-1,5-hexadiyne-3-ene to 1,4-dehydrobenzene diradicals known as Bergman cyclization.[1] This reaction played a major role in understanding the mode of action of endiin antibiotics in the 1980s. Since the mid-1970s, Bergman has also been working in the field of organometallic chemistry. He contributed to the synthesis and reaction of organometallic complexes and investigated organometallic compounds with metal-oxygen and metal-nitrogen bonds. He also discovered the first soluble organometallic complexes of the transition metals, to which the addition of a saturated hydrocarbon (C-H activation, C-H insertion) succeeded.[2]

Personal life[edit]

Since June 17, 1965, Bergman has been married to Wendy L. Street. They have two sons, David R. and Michael S. Bergman.

Awards and honours[edit]



  • Who's Who in America. 2007, ISBN 0-8379-7006-7, p. 341.


  1. ^ Richard R. Jones, Robert G. Bergman: p-Benzyne. Generation as an intermediate in a thermal isomerization reaction and trapping evidence for the 1,4-benzenediyl structure. In: Journal of the American Chemical Society. Volume 94, Nr. 2, 1972, p. 660–661.
  2. ^ A. H. Janowicz und R. G. Bergman: C-H activation in completely saturated hydrocarbons. Direct observation of M + R-H right arrow M(R)(H). In: Journal of the American Chemical Society. Volume 104, 1982, p. 352–354; almost at the same time with J. K. Hoyano und W. A. G. Graham: Oxidative addition of the carbon hydrogen-bonds of neopentane and cyclohexane to a photochemically generated iridium(I) complex. In: Journal of the American Chemical Society. Volume 104, 1982, p. 3723–3725.
  3. ^ "Ira Remsen Award". Maryland Section. 14 November 2018. Archived from the original on 14 November 2018. Retrieved 14 November 2018.

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