William Dulaney Gwinn was born on September 28, 1916, in Slater, Missouri. He received his undergraduate and masterŐs degrees from the University of Missouri. In 1939 he came to the University of California, Berkeley, where, with the exception of the war years, he spent his entire career, first as a graduate student and then as a member of the Department of Chemistry faculty. He became a full professor in 1955.
Professor Gwinn earned his doctorate in 1942 with Professor Kenneth S. Pitzer, studying barriers to internal rotation of molecules. That same year he was appointed to the faculty, but he was soon drawn into defense work. Under Wendell LatimerŐs direction, he and several other young Berkeley faculty and graduate students studied the effect of weather conditions on the behavior of poison gases.
Returning to Berkeley following the war, he resumed his work in chemical physics and theory. His research interests included statistical thermodynamics, photochemistry, micrometeorology, and infrared and raman spectroscopy. He then entered the new field of microwave spectroscopy. As one of the few chemists doing this work, he chose to study molecules with interesting bonding. One of his first achievements was to determine the molecular structure of ethylene oxide. He and his students went on to establish the molecular structures of many molecules with unusual bonding, some of which had strong interactions between vibration and rotation, and he developed an important theoretical method to treat this problem.
After his retirement in 1979, Professor Gwinn was active in research and consulting in several energy related fields. Professor Gwinn is survived by his wife, Margaret; a son, Robert Gwinn, of Coshocton, Ohio; daughters Ellen Hart, of Austin, Texas, and Kathleen Walsh of Fort Lauderdale, Florida; and eight grandchildren.
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