Roald Hoffmann

2001 John P. McGovern Science and Society Awardhoffmann

A frequent American Scientist columnist, Roald Hoffmann is the Frank H. T. Rhodes Professor of Humane Letters and professor of chemistry at Cornell University. He shared the 1981 Nobel Prize in chemistry with Kenichi Fukui for his work in predicting the course of chemical reactions. Hoffmann's other honors include the Arthur C. Cope Award of the American Chemical Society, the National Medal of Science, the National Academy of Sciences Award in the Chemical Sciences and the Priestly Medal. He has been awarded numerous honorary degrees, from Columbia and Yale universities, among others. Hoffmann graduated from Columbia in 1958 and earned a Ph.D. in chemical physics from Harvard in 1962. He began teaching at Cornell in 1965. He is the author of three books of poetry, including The Metamict State (1987) and Gaps and Verges (1990), both from the University of Central Florida Press, and co-wrote the play Oxygen with distinguished fellow chemist and Sigma Xi member Carl Djerassi. Considered one of the most important chemists in the past 75 years, a designation bestowed on him by Chemical & Engineering News, Hoffmann is also esteemed as a stellar educator. He continues to teach freshman introductory chemistry courses each year and has participated in the production of a television course about chemistry. He has also written popular and scholarly articles on science and other subjects.