Glenn Seaborg was born to Swedish parents in Ishpeming, Michigan in 1912. He received his undergraduate degree in chemistry from the University of California, Los Angeles, where his German professor introduced him to Albert Einstein. In 1937, he received his Ph.D. in chemistry at the University of California, Berkeley.
In 1942, Seaborg joined the University of Chicago branch of the Manhattan Project, where he worked with Enrico Fermi on the recent discovery that uranium-238 could be converted into plutonium. In 1951, he won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his work in transuranium elements; he worked to isolate ten new elements and developed the "actinide concept," which helped organize the period table as we know it today. During the course of his life, Seaborg served as a professor and research scientist at Berkeley, where he also served as Chancellor from 1958 to 1961.
In 1961, Seaborg was appointed chairman of the United States Atomic Energy Commission by President John F. Kennedy. During his term as chairman, he was a huge proponent of the Limited Test Ban Treaty and later helped convince President Lyndon Johnson of the importance of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. It is no surprise, then, that it was Seaborg who Nixon called in 1969, during his first crisis with the Soviets and nuclear testing. In 1983, President Ronald Reagan appointed him to the National Commission on Excellence in Education. It was Seaborg who, upon seeing the initial report, compared the contemporary crisis in education to the familiar "arms race," which helped alert the public and government to the gravity of the problem.
Seaborg's work was also revolutionary in the field of nuclear medicine. His research led to the creation of the isotope iodine-131, which is used to combat thyroid disease to this day. The treatment prolonged the life of Seaborg's own mother. Seaborg himself passed away in 1999 in his home in Lafayette, California.