Anderson | Thomas | 1819-1874 | professor of chemistry, University of Glasgow

Biographical Information

Occupation, Sphere of Activity

Thomas Anderson (1819-1874) was an organic chemist. Born and brought up in Leith, near Edinburgh, the son of a physician, Anderson was educated at the High School of Leith, Edinburgh Academy and the University of Edinburgh, where he gained an MD degree in 1841.

Anderson is primarily remembered for his discovery of picoline (an isomer of aniline) and the base pyridine in a series of experiments carried out between 1848-1868 in which he distilled bone oil and investigated the concentrated fractions of organic bases created. He was also known at the time for his work on agriculture - he was chemist to the Highland and Agricultural Society of Scotland from 1848. In this role, he wrote 'Elements of Agricultural Chemistry'' (1860), considered to be an accurate picture of the state of science at the time, but otherwise largely unremarkable.

Anderson also looked at physiology in humans, particularly the chemical changes that occur in the body during physiological processes such as eating. In addition, Anderson worked for some time on codeine and other opiates, leading to his discovery of the composition of a number of alkaloids.



Other Significant Information

Notable publications:

Elements of Agricultural Chemistry, ( 1860)

Honours, Qualifications and Appointments

1845: Elected Fellow, Royal Society of Edinburgh

1848: Appointed Chemist, Highland and Agricultural Society of Scotland

1852: Appointed Regius Professor of Chemistry, University of Glasgow

1855: Awarded Keith Medal

1859: Elected President, Glasgow Philosophical Society

1867: Elected President, Chemical Section of the British Association for the Advancement of Science

1872: Awarded Royal Society Royal Medal


List of sources for the biographical information:

Gillispie, Charles C, Dictionary of Scientific Biography, vol I, (New York, Scribner's, 1970)

Lee, Sidney, Dictionary of National Biography, vol I, (London, Smith, Elder & Co, 1908)

Encyclopaedia Britannica, vol 1, (Chicago, William Benton, 1964)

Encyclopaedia Britannica, vol 18, (Chicago, William Benton, 1964)