William Knowles dies in Chesterfield at age 95.
William Knowles receives one fourth of the Nobel Prize in Chemistry along with Ryoji Noyori "for their work on chirally catalysed hydrogenation reactions". The other half of the Nobel Prize is assigned to K. Barry Sharpless.
William Knowles attends Berkshire School, where he is the first of his class in math and science.
William Knowles develops the first chiral catalyst for an asymmetrical hydrogenation reaction designed to trigger formation of high concentrations of a particular form of a molecule, while producing only small quantities of the molecule's mirror image. This chiral catalyst for hydrogenation reactions culminates in a process for mass production of L-DOPA, a drug used in the treatment of Parkinson disease.
William Knowles starts working at Thomas and Hochwalt laboratories. Among his tasks there is also making super pure hexamethylenetetramine to be used for making the explosive cyclonite.
William Knowles enters Columbia University, where he earns his Ph.D. and where he works with Professor Elderfield on making analogs of the cardiac aglucones.
William Knowles transfers to St. Louis to work on plasticizers and intermediates. With his group he produces benzyl benzoate as a mite repellent for soldiers clothing, DDT and the antibiotic chloramphenicol, which is later taken off the market because of side effects. Knowles spends then nine months in Professor Woodward’s lab at Cambridge hoping to commercialize cortisone’s synthetic approach. Unfortunately the Mexican yam with its high content of diosgenin eventually kills their effort.
William Knowles attends for a senior year Phillips Academy Andover. Here he takes his first chemistry course and he becomes fascinated by the subject. At the end of the year, he takes a competitive exam and wins the $50 Boylston prize in chemistry.
William Knowles is born in Taunton to George Bourne Knowles and Alice Pierce.
William Knowles enters Harvard University, where he graduates in chemistry. Here he takes organic chemistry with Louis Fieser. This subject influences him a lot. He is introduced to optical isomerism and the tetrahedral carbon atom.