Stumm, Werner

Swiss Water Chemist 1924–1999

Werner Stumm contributed distinctively to the field of water chemistry, including equilibrium studies, iron oxidation kinetics, corrosion chemistry, eutrophication, coagulation–flocculation, and, perhaps most importantly, the evolution of fresh waters and marine waters. His work resulted from careful theory, experimentation, and quantitative analysis of particle–water and air–water interfaces at the molecular and atomic scales.

Early in his career, Stumm and colleagues became intrigued with the quantitative studies of Lars G. Sillen, Robert M. Garrels, and Raymond Siever concerning sea water and fresh water, and became convinced that only quantitative studies could explain their chemical compositions. Stumm made noteworthy contributions to studies of both natural waters and human-modified waters.

Werner Stumm was born in Wolfalden, Switzerland. He received a Ph.D. in inorganic chemistry from the University of Zurich in 1952. He worked briefly at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Dübendorf, where he became interested in water quality and analysis. He studied at Harvard University as a postdoctoral student in 1954–1955 and continued as a faculty member for 15 years, including an appointment as the Gordon McKay Professor of Applied Chemistry.

Stumm returned to Switzerland where he directed the Swiss Federal Institute for Water Resources and Water Pollution from 1970 to 1992, during which time the institute became a world leader in environmental research. With a sequence of distinguished colleagues, including his first Ph.D. student, James J. Morgan, with whom he authored the seminal text Aqueous Chemistry , Stumm made a series of major advances in aquatic chemistry.

Stumm authored or coauthored more than 200 scientific papers. He received many awards, including the Albert Einstein World Award of Science, the Tyler Prize for Environmental Achievement (cowinner), the Stockholm Water Prize, and the American Chemical Society Award for Pollution Control. Stumm received various honorary doctoral degrees. He died on April 14, 1999 at his home in Switzerland.

SEE ALSO Fresh Water, Natural Composition of ; Fresh Water, Physics and Chemistry of ; Garrels, Robert ; Ocean Chemical Processes ; Sea Water, Physics and Chemistry of.

E. Julius Dasch


Stumm, Werner, and James J. Morgan. Aquatic Chemistry: An Introduction Emphasizing Chemical Equilibria in Natural Waters, 2nd ed. New York: John Wiley & Sons, 1981.

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