John Anthony Pople is born in Burnham-on-Sea, UK, a small seaside resort town on the west coast of England.
Eventually, after much debate, the family returns to the U.S. in 1964. Pople is appointed professor of chemical physics by the Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh in 1964. In 1967, he heads the Department of Chemistry, and between 1974 and 1993 he holds a Professorship for Sciences.
After ten years at Cambridge, he sees himself as a practicing scientist instead of a mathematician, so he looks for a new job with greater scientific content. He accepts a position as head of the new Basics Physics Division at the National Physical Laboratory in Teddington near London. But as it turns out, the administrative burden interferes with his research programme.
John Pople dies in Chicago.
He studies mathematics in Cambridge and also takes courses in different branches of theoretical science (quantum mechanics, cosmology, statistics, theory of liquids). He has to take a break from studies in 1945-1947 because at the end of the war, the university is flooded with ex-servicemen.
He spends a sabbatical year as a guest professor at the Carnegie Institute of Technology in Pittsburgh, PA. During this period, he makes up his mind to abandon the administrative job and seek an opportunity to devote as much time as possible to chemical research.
He marries Joy Bowers in 1952.
After 1993, he works as a Professor for Chemistry at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois. He visits universities all over the world and spends several winters in New Zealand with his wife.
He begins his career in theoretical chemistry as a research student at Trinity College, Cambridge, and spends the next ten years there. He obtains his Ph.D. in mathematics in 1951 and he is a lecturer at the Mathematics Faculty between 1954 and 1958.
During the summer months of 1956 and 1957, he works as a research assistant for the National Research Council in Ottawa, Canada.
He attends Bristol Grammar School, commuting there every day even during the war, in spite of air attacks. He develops an intense interest in mathematics, and in his final two years he receives personal coaching to prepare him for Cambridge University.
John Pople and Walter Kahn share the 1998 Nobel Prize for Chemistry for their contributions to the computation of the properties of molecules. Kohn has developed computational methods in quantum chemistry that allow chemists to determine the structure and electron density of a molecule in a short period of time. It has also become possible to compute the course of a chemical reaction from its initial structure up to its final structure, making chemistry a "calculable" branch of science.