• Harold Clayton Urey was born on April 29, 1893 in Indiana, USA.  He had his early education and preliminary teaching education from rural areas and country schools before he first stepped into University of Montana in 1914. He had a bachelor’s degree in Zoology, and after working in an industry as a chemist for 2 years, he returned to University as an instructor in Chemistry. In 1921, he entered University of California and was awarded a Ph. D in Chemistry in 1923.
  • After getting doctorate degree, he developed his skills under the guidance of Neil’s Bohr Institute in Denmark, Later he worked as an associate in Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, USA.  He was promoted to Professor Grade in Chemistry at Columbia University in 1934. He was Director of War Research, Atomic Bomb Project at Columbia University during 1940-1945. He moved to the Institute for Nuclear Studies, University of Chicago in 1945 as a Distinguished Service Professor of Chemistry. He was a Visiting Professor at University of Oxford, (1956-1957) and Professor-at-Large at University of California (1958).
  • In his early career, Harold Urey worked on atomic structure, absorption spectra and the structure of molecules. In 1931, Harold Urey discovered the deuterium while doing fractional distillation of liquid hydrogen for separation and identification of isotopes of Hydrogen.   Urey was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1934 "for his discovery of heavy hydrogen/Deuterium".
  • He also worked on separation of uranium isotopes, measurement of paleotemperatures, investigations into the origin of the planets, and the chemical problems of the origin of the earth. Urey coined the term cosmo-chemistry and developed it as a novel branch of Chemistry. He worked on heavy isotope of Oxygen (Oxygen-18) which made him worry about evolution of life and chemical origins. Urey was fascinated by abundance of the chemical elements on earth and in the stars and their evolution by chemical means. One of his graduate students, Stanley L. Miller, showed in the Miller–Urey experiment that, a spark is required from natural phenomenon to quick start life and produce amino acids that are building blocks of life. He was editor of the Journal of Chemical Physics.  
  • Harold C. Urey died on January 5, 1981.

Contributed by Dr Ramars Amanchy, CSIR-Indian Institute of Chemical Technology, Hyderabad