Carter, Herbert E. (Herbert Edmund) (1910-2007) | University of Illinois Archives

Name: Carter, Herbert E. (Herbert Edmund) (1910-2007)

Historical Note:

Herbert ("Herb") Edmund Carter (1910-2007) was assistant (1931-32), instructor (1933-35), associate (1935-37), assistant professor (1937-42), associate professor (1942-45), and professor of chemistry (1945-71) at the University of Illinois (UI). He also held administrative positions as head of the Department of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering (1954-67), acting dean of the Graduate College (1963), and vice-chancellor for Academic Affairs (1968-71) at UI. He was a noted educator, administrator, and biochemist who pioneered the study of sphingolipids.

Carter was born in Mooresville, Indiana, on September 25, 1910, and grew up on a farm. He earned a B.A. in chemistry from DePauw University in Greencastle, Indiana (1930), as well as a M.S. (1931) and a PhD (1934) in organic chemistry from UI. He was hired as an instructor at UI by William C. Rose before he completed his doctorate, and he assisted Rose in his discovery of threonine. In 1947, Carter created the term sphingolipides and established it as a new area of lipid research. He also "made major contributions to understanding the structure of other lipids, particularly the glycolipids of plants, and of amino acids and antibiotics" (Yu and Law). Carter became professor at UI in 1945, and he took on administrative roles as Head of the Department of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering (1954-64) and Vice-Chancellor for Academic Affairs (1968-71). In 1971, he left UI for the University of Arizona where he coordinated interdisciplinary programs in addition to creating and heading the first Department of Biochemistry (1977-81). Carter was recognized with an honorary degree from DePauw University (1952), membership with the National Academy of Sciences (1953), and the Eli Lilly Award in Biological Chemistry from the American Chemical Society (1943), among others.

Carter was married to Elizabeth W. DeWees (d. 2005) in 1933, and they had two daughters, Anne and Jean. He died on March 4, 2007.


Wikipedia, s.v. "H. E. Carter," accessed May 8, 2020,

Robert K. Yu and John H. Law, Herbert Edmund Carter, 1910â??2007, Biographical Memoir (Washington, DC: National Academy of Sciences, 2009), accessed May 8, 2020,

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