Daily Archives: September 22, 2011

Nobel Prize winner in chemistry to speak at A&T

Nobel Prize-winning chemist Dr. Roald Hoffmann will be the keynote speaker for the Department of Chemistry’s Fourth Bi-Annual Chemical Sciences Symposium.  The daylong event will be held Friday October 21 in the New Science Building.  The morning will be devoted to Hoffmann and other invited speakers; a poster session will be held in the afternoon.

Hoffmann received the 1981 prize in chemistry along with Kenichi Fukui for their independently developed theories on the the course of chemical reactions.  Hoffmann used quantum mechanics and the wave properties of matter to investigate and predict chemical reactivity.

His life story is remarkable.  Born to a Jewish family in Poland in 1937, he and his parents were later imprisoned in a Nazi labor camp.  He and his mother were smuggled out in 1943 and were sheltered by a Ukrainian family until being liberated by the Red Army in 1944 (his father stayed behind and was killed by the Nazis after he organized an unsuccessful breakout attempt).  After four years in post-war refugee camps, Hoffmann came to the United States at age 12.

Although he hadn’t been able to attend school until he was seven, at age 18 he enrolled at Columbia, where he received his undergraduate degree.  He received his doctorate from Harvard.  Since 1965, Hoffmann has taught at Cornell University, where he is now the Frank H. T. Rhodes Professor of Humane Letters Emeritus. He is widely recognized for his contributions on molecular bonding and chemical structure.  He is also a poet and playwright and has written extensively on philosophy and science.

There is no registration fee for the symposium.  For more on the event, visit the symposium website.