@University Of California, Berkeley, Family and Family
Yuan T. Lee born at
He is married to Bernice Wu Chin-li, whom he first met in elementary school. The couple has three children.
Yuan T. Lee was born on 19 November 1936 in Shinchiku City, Shinchiku Prefecture, Japanese Taiwan to Lee Tze-fan, an accomplished Shinchiku-born artist, and Ts'ai P'ei, an elementary school teacher from Goseikō Town.
When he was a young boy, Taiwan was still under Japanese occupation. His elementary education was disrupted during the World War II during which the inhabitants of his city were relocated to the mountains.
He could resume his education only after the war ended and things returned to normalcy. He was a good student and performed well in his studies at the Hsinchu Elementary School. He was also athletic and participated in a variety of sporting events. He was on the school’s baseball team and also played tennis and ping-pong.
He developed into a well-rounded personality during his time at high school. Besides excelling in academics and sports, he also proved himself to be a skilled musician and played trombone in the marching band. He had a keen interest in reading as well and read voraciously on a number of topics. He was deeply impacted after reading the biography of Madame Curie and decided to be a scientist.
He graduated from Hsinchu Senior High School with an excellent academic record and was promptly admitted to the National Taiwan University without having to take the entrance examination, in 1955. He earned a B.Sc. in 1959.
Yuan T. Lee remained in Mahan’s group even after completing his Ph.D. and began his work on ion molecule reactive scattering experiments along with Ron Gentry. After experimenting for months he came upon the technique of designing and constructing a very powerful scattering apparatus for conducting specialized experiments.
In 1967, he joined Professor Dudley Herschbach at Harvard University as a post-doctoral fellow ,where he worked on reactions between hydrogen atoms and diatomic alkali molecules. During this time he also worked on the construction of a universal crossed molecular beams apparatus with Doug McDonald and Pierre LeBreton.
In 1968 he was offered the position of an assistant professor in the Department of Chemistry and the James Franck Institute of the University of Chicago which he accepted, embarking on an illustrious academic career. He was promoted to associate professor in 1971 and professor in 1973.
In 1974, he returned to Berkeley as professor of chemistry and principal investigator at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. He became a U.S. citizen in the same year.
His research primarily focused on understanding the dependence of chemical reactivity on molecular orientation, decay dynamics, and identifying complex reaction mechanisms. Over the years, the scope of his scientific research expanded greatly.
He further developed Herschbach’s invention of the crossed molecular beam technique and extended the technique to introduce mass spectroscopy to identify the products resulting from the reactions of oxygen and fluorine atoms with complex organic compounds.