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Roald Hoffmann

Roald HoffmannAKA Roald Safran

Born: 18-Jul-1937
Birthplace: Zolochiv, Ukraine

Gender: Male
Religion: Atheist [1]
Race or Ethnicity: White
Sexual orientation: Straight
Occupation: Chemist, Poet

Nationality: United States
Executive summary: Woodward-Hoffmann reaction

American chemist Roald Hoffmann used quantum mechanics to help reveal the mechanisms of chemical reactions. He was born Roald Safran in a part of Poland that is now in the Ukraine, where he and his family were imprisoned in a Nazi labor camp when he was a child. His father arranged an escape for Hoffmann and his mother, for which he was executed. Mother and son spent the duration of the war hiding in a schoolhouse attic. They made their way to America after World War II, where young Hoffmann attended public schools, and his good grades earned him a Westinghouse science scholarship to Columbia University.

In 1963 he introduced the extended Hückel method, a molecular orbital theory which allows calculation of the electronic structure of molecules. In 1965, in collaboration with Nobel laureate Robert B. Woodward, he introduced Woodward-Hoffmann rules, a method for exploring the electronic structure of transition states and intermediates in organic reactions. Hoffmann and Japanese chemist Kenichi Fukui shared the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1981; Woodward had died two years earlier, and thus was ineligible. At Hoffmann's urging, a memorial to the dead of the Holocaust was erected in his hometown in 2009. He is also a published poet and playwright.

[1] Has described himself as "an atheist who is moved by religion".

Father: Hillel Safran (civil engineer, d. 1943 execution)
Mother: Clara Rosen Safran (teacher)
Father: Paul Hoffmann (stepfather, d. 1981)
Sister: Elinor (half-sister, b. 1954)
Wife: Eva Börjesson (m. 1960)
Son: Hillel Jan (b. 1963)
Daughter: Ingrid Helena (b. 1965)

    High School: Stuyvesant High School, New York City, NY (1955)
    University: BA Chemistry summa cum laude, Columbia University (1958)
    University: MA Physics, Harvard University (1960)
    University: PhD Chemical Physics, Harvard University (1962)
    Scholar: Brookhaven National Laboratory (1957)
    Scholar: Physics, Moscow State University (1960-61)
    Fellow: Physics, Harvard University (1962-65)
    Teacher: Chemistry, Cornell University (1965-68)
    Professor: Chemistry, Cornell University (1968-74)
    Professor: John A. Newman Professor of Physical Science, Cornell University (1974-96)
    Professor: Frank H.T. Rhodes Professor of Humane Letters, Cornell University (1996-)

    ACS Award in Pure Chemistry 1969
    ACS Harrison Howe Award 1969
    ACS Arthur C. Cope Award 1973 (with Robert B. Woodward)
    ACS Linus Pauling Medal 1974
    Guggenheim Fellowship 1978
    ACS William H. Nichols Medal 1981
    Nobel Prize for Chemistry 1981 (with Kenichi Fukui)
    ACS Award in Inorganic Chemistry 1982
    National Medal of Science 1983
    NAS Award in Chemical Sciences 1986
    Priestley Medal 1990
    ACS George C. Pimentel Award 1996
    ACA Elizabeth A. Wood Science Writing Award 1997
    PCS Kołos Medal 1998
    AIC Gold Medal 2006
    ACS Grady-Stack Award 2009
    NSB Public Service Award 2009
    Allied Chemical Corporation Science Advisor
    DuPont Science Advisor
    Eli Lilly Science Advisor
    John Wiley & Sons Science Advisor
    Kodak Science Advisor
    Accounts of Chemical Research Editorial Board
    Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists Board of Sponsors
    Chemical Review Editorial Board
    Journal of the American Chemical Society Editorial Board
    Langmuir Editorial Board
    Nouveau Journal de Chimie Editorial Board
    Organometallics Editorial Board
    Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Fellow, 1966-68
    American Academy of Arts and Sciences 1971
    American Chemical Society
    American Philosophical Society 1984
    American Physical Society
    Chemical Society of Japan Foreign Member, 2002
    German Chemical Society Foreign Member, 1999
    Federation of American Scientists Board of Sponsors
    German Academy of Sciences Leopoldina Foreign Member, 2000
    Harvard Society of Fellows 1962
    Indian National Science Academy Foreign Member, 1983
    International Academy of Quantum Molecular Science 1978
    National Academy of Sciences 1972
    National Science Foundation
    National Institute of Standards and Technology 1955-58 (summers)
    Royal Institution of Great Britain Foreign Member, 1989
    Royal Society Foreign Member, 1984
    Royal Society of Chemistry Foreign Member
    Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences Foreign Member, 1985
    Smithsonian Institution
    Russian Academy of Sciences Foreign Member, 1988
    Science Debate 2008
    Jewish Ancestry
    Polish Ancestry
    Ukrainian Ancestry
    Nazi Concentration Camp Inmate 1941-43
    Naturalized US Citizen 1955

Official Website:

Author of books:
The Conservation of Orbital Symmetry (1969, chemistry; with Robert B. Woodward)
The Metamict State (1987, poetry)
Solids and Surfaces: A Chemist's View of Bonding in Extended Structures (1988, chemistry)
Gaps and Verges (1990, poetry)
Creativity, delayed recognition, and other essays (1991, essays; with Eugene Garfield)
Chemistry Imagined: Reflections on Science (1993, popular science; with Vivian Torrence)
The Same and Not the Same (1995, popular science)
Old Wine, New Flasks: Reflections on Science and Jewish Tradition (1997, essays; with Shira Leibowitz Schmidt)
Memory Effects (1999, poetry)
Catalista (2002, poetry)
Soliton (2002, poetry)

Wrote plays:
Oxygen (2001 (with Carl Djerassi))
Should've (2006)
Something That Belongs To You (2009)

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