Robert W. Field was born on June 13, 1944 in Wilmington, Delaware. He graduated from Amherst College in 1965 and received his doctorate in Physical Chemistry from Harvard University in 1972. After three years of postdoctoral research in the Quantum Institute at the University of California, Santa Barbara, he joined the Chemistry faculty at MIT in 1974, where he is now the Robert T. Haslam and Bradley Dewey Professor of Chemistry.
He was elected a Fellow of the American Physical Society, American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, OSA, and the Royal Society of Chemistry. He has been awarded the Herbert P. Broida Prize in 1980, the Earle K. Plyler Prize in 1988, the Ellis R. Lippincott Award in 1990, the William F. Meggers Award in 1996, the Bomem-Michelson Award in 2006, and the Arthur L. Schawlow Prize in Laser Science in 2009. In addition, the 1990 Nobel Laureate Signature Award of the American Chemical Society cites Dr. Yongqin Chen and his co-preceptors (Professors Field and Kinsey) for SEP studies of acetylene.