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John Lawrence Smith (December 17, 1818October 12, 1883) was an American chemist, born December 17, 1818 in Louisville, Kentucky, and educated at the University of Virginia, the Medical College of South Carolina (M.D., 1840), in Germany under Liebig, and in Paris under Pelouze. In 1844 he began the practice of medicine at Charleston and established the Medical and Surgical Journal of South Carolina. Between 1846 and 1850, he investigated the mineral resources of Turkey, for Turkey's government, and he discovered deposits of coal, chrome ore, and the famous emery deposits of Naxos. In Turkey he also discovered liebigite, and named it after his German teacher Liebig.

In 1850, while professor of chemistry at the University of Louisiana (now Tulane University), Smith invented the inverted microscope. From 1852 to 1854 he was professor of chemistry in the University of Virginia. From 1854 to 1866 he was Chair and Professor of Medical Chemistry and Toxicology at the Medical Department of the University of Louisville. He was president of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (1872) and of the American Chemical Society (1877). His collection of meteorites was the finest in the United States, and upon his death, he passed it to Harvard. He published Mineralogy and Chemistry, Original Researches (1873; enlarged with biographical sketches, 1884). The J. Lawrence Smith Medal is named in his honor.

Smith died October 12, 1883 in Louisville and was buried in Cave Hill Cemetery.