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He returned to the US in 1848 and that year became professor of chemistry at the Free Academy, now the City College of New York. Gibbs was a candidate for Professor of Physical Science at Columbia in 1854, but his application was rejected because he was a Unitarian.
Gibbs's research was mainly in analytical and inorganic chemistry, especially the cobalt-amines, platinum metals, and complex acids. He published a number of articles related to spectroscopy and the measurement of wavelengths. Gibbs was said to have been an excellent teacher, who also published many articles in scientific journals.
American Association for the Advancement of Science, President, 1897.
Gibbs has been honored by the naming of features in and near Yosemite National Park. Mt. Gibbs stands 3,893 metres (12,773 ft) above sea level. Gibbs Lake is located at 2,905 m (9,530 ft) above sea level in the canyon northeast of the peak. Gibbs Lake is formed by Gibbs Creek, originating in the upper reaches of Gibbs Canyon, and drains into Lee Vining Canyon.
Gibbs is one of the few scientists recognized in the United States Capitol in Washington DC. A small statue of him is on the Amateis bronze doors.
The Wolcott Gibbs Memorial Laboratory, a chemistry research building, was constructed by Harvard University on its campus in 1911-1913 (demolished 2001-2002). This four-story free-standing building had a footprint of 71 feet by 41 feet. Prof. William Lipscomb did much of his Nobel prizewinning research on boron chemistry in Gibbs Lab, continuing work started at the University of Minnesota.
^Gibbs, W. (1864). "On the electrolytic precipitation of copper and nickel as a method of analysis". Zeitschrift für Analytische Chemie. 3: 334.
^Gibbs, W. (1865). "On the electrolytic precipitation of copper and nickel as a method of analysis". American Journal of Science. 39: 64-65.
^Warner, Ezra J. Generals in Blue: Lives of the Union Commanders. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1964. ISBN0-8071-0822-7. P. 172.
Loeb, Morris (1913). "Oliver Wolcott Gibbs". In Richards, T. W. (ed.). The Scientific Work of Morris Loeb. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press. pp. 108-117. The Scientific Work of Morris Loeb.