Columbians Ahead of Their Time
 Isaac Asimov
Isaac Asimov "If my doctor told me I had only six minutes to live, I wouldn't brood. I'd type a little faster."

Isaac Asimov (1920–1992)
Author and Scientist
General Studies 1939, PhD 1948
ScD (hon.) 1983

The author of more than 400 books on a wide variety of subjects, Asimov elevated the science fiction genre by incorporating elements of sociology, history, mathematics, and science into his work. In addition to his classics The Foundation Trilogy - loosely based on Edward Gibbon's History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire - and I, Robot, Asimov wrote mysteries, books on general science, literature, sex, Shakespeare, and the Bible. Asimov wrote 10 or more volumes a year for more than three decades while contributing some 400 columns and articles to Fantasy & Science Fiction magazine. In addition to his fertile imagination, Asimov's prolific output stemmed from his work ethic: every morning he rose at six, sat down at his typewriter by 7:30, and wrote until 10 p.m.

Asimov's family came to the United States from Russia when Isaac was three. He attended New York City public schools and graduated from Columbia with a degree in chemistry in 1939. When his applications to all five New York City medical schools were rejected, he applied for the master's program in chemistry at Columbia. After Asimov was rejected for the master's program, he convinced the department committee to accept him on probation, earning his MA in 1941. After four years in the Army, Asimov returned to Columbia in 1946 and earned his chemistry PhD in 1948. That year, he obtained a postdoctoral position at Columbia, researching anti-malarial compounds. In June 1949, he joined the faculty of Boston University School of Medicine. He gave up his teaching duties and salary in 1958 to become a full-time writer. In 1979, BU promoted him to the rank of full professor.

Read more about Asimov in the Columbia Encyclopedia

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