White studied at the University of Akron, Purdue University, the University of Chicago and Harvard. He served as an instructor at Yale University for four years before coming to Hopkins as a faculty member in 1956. He would remain for the next 43 years.
Several of White's most important contributions to chemistry were in photochemistry and chemoluminescence, the study of light as a cause or byproduct of chemical reactions. For example, he determined the structure of luciferin, a protein used by fireflies to create flashes of light, and synthesized it in the laboratory.
White also developed an important technique for determining the sites of highest chemical activity in enzymes, proteins used by life forms to enable chemical reactions.
"He attracted students from all over the world," says colleague Brown L. Murr, emeritus professor of chemistry. "He was a first-class synthesist and biochemist."
Plans are being developed for a mid-November Hopkins memorial service.