Melvin Calvin died in Berkeley on 8 January 1997, at the age of 85, from a heart attack following years of declining health. He was widely known for his mental intensity, skill in asking questions, and impressive presentation of his research and ideas.
During the period1946–57 Calvin directed laboratories utilizing carbon–14 and other radio–isotopes in the University of California's Radiation Laboratory, founded by Ernest Orlando Lawrence. Among his achievements was the delineation of the path of carbon in photo synthesis, for which he was awarded a Nobel Prize in 1961. He was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 1954. Among his many honours were the Priestley Medal of the American Chemical Society in 1978, the US National Medal of Science in 1989, and the Davy Medal of the Royal Society in1964.