Nobel Prize-winning professor at Purdue in hospital; wife found dead

Nobel laureate Ei-ichi Negishi and his wife, Sumire, stand with a bronze bust unveiled at Purdue University. (Provided Photo/Steve Scherer)

DAVIS JUNCTION, Illinois (WLFI) — A Nobel Prize-winning, Purdue University professor is in the hospital and his wife is dead less than a day after family reported them missing.

Ei-ichi Negishi was found wandering a rural road south of Rockford, Illinois, early Tuesday morning. Police took him to an area hospital, where they found he had been reported missing to Indiana State Police the night before. His wife, Sumire Negishi, was also missing.

After searching the area, police found 80-year-old Sumire Negishi dead at the Orchard Hills Landfill, along with the couple’s vehicle. Foul play was not suspected.

Indiana State Police Sgt. Kim Riley said the family had no indication the Negishis were in the Rockford area. Local authorities in Illinois are leading the investigation.

Negishi, 82, is a distiguished chemistry professor at Purdue. In 2010, he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his work in synthesizing organic compounds.

He was recovering as of Tuesday evening at a Rockford-area hospital.

Purdue spokesperson Brian Zink said the news came as a surprise and shock. The university released a statement saying, “We are deeply saddened to learn of the death of Sumire Negishi and offer our sincerest sympathies to the Negishi family from the entire Boilermaker family.”