Roald Hoffmann (Safran), Nobel Prize in Chemistry 1981

Is your surname Hoffmann?

Research the Hoffmann family

Roald Hoffmann (Safran), Nobel Prize in Chemistry 1981's Geni Profile

Share your family tree and photos with the people you know and love

  • Build your family tree online
  • Share photos and videos
  • Smart Matching™ technology
  • Free!


Roald Hoffmann (Safran)

Current Location:: Ithaca, NY, United States
Birthplace: Złoczew, łódzkie, Poland
Immediate Family:

Son of Hillel Safran and Clara Safran, Hoffmann
Husband of <private> Hoffmann (Borjesson)
Father of <private> Hoffmann and <private> Hoffmann
Half brother of <private> Hoffmann

Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:
view all

Immediate Family

About Roald Hoffmann (Safran), Nobel Prize in Chemistry 1981

Roald Hoffmann (born July 18, 1937, Roald Safran) is an American theoretical chemist of Jewish-Polish origin, who won the 1981 Nobel Prize in Chemistry. He currently teaches at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York.

Early life

Escape from the Holocaust

Hoffmann was born in Złoczów (Poland, now Ukraine) to a Jewish family and was named in honor of the Norwegian explorer, Roald Amundsen. He and his mother were among the only members of his immediate family to survive the Holocaust with the help from his Ukrainian neighbors, an experience which strongly influenced his beliefs and work. (A grandmother and several aunts, uncles, and cousins also survived.) They migrated to the United States in 1949. In 2009, a monument to Holocaust victims was built in Zolochiv on the initiative of Hoffmann.

Academic credentials

Hoffmann graduated in 1955 from New York City's Stuyvesant High School, where he won a Westinghouse science scholarship. He received his Bachelor of Arts degree at Columbia University (Columbia College) in 1958. He earned his Master of Arts degree in 1960 from Harvard University. He went to Cornell in 1965 and has remained there, becoming professor emeritus.

He earned his Doctor of Philosophy degree from Harvard University while working under direction of subsequent 1976 chemistry Nobel Prize winner William N. Lipscomb, Jr. Under Lipscomb's direction the Extended Huckel method was developed by Lawrence Lohr and by Roald Hoffmann. This method was later extended by Hoffman.

Chemistry interests

Hoffmann has investigated both organic and inorganic substances, developing computational tools and methods such as the extended Hückel method, which he proposed in 1963.

He also developed, with Robert Burns Woodward, rules for elucidating reaction mechanisms (the Woodward-Hoffmann rules). He also introduced the isolobal principle.

Artistic interests

Hoffmann is also a writer of poetry published in two collections, "The Metamict State" (1987, ISBN 0-8130-0869-7) and "Gaps and Verges" (1990, ISBN 0-8130-0943-X), and of books explaining chemistry to the general public. Also, he co-authored with Carl Djerassi a play called "Oxygen" about the discovery of oxygen, but also about what it means to be a scientist and the importance of process of discovery in science.

Hoffmann stars in the World of Chemistry video series with Don Showalter.

Since the spring of 2001, Hoffmann has been the host of a monthly series at New York City's Cornelia Street Cafe called "Entertaining Science," which explores the juncture between the arts and science.

Hoffmann and Brian Alan produced an English cover of Wei Wei's song “Dedication of Love“. Proceeds from this project were to be contributed to the victims of the Sichuan Earthquake. The nine artists involved in the project are BoA, Wei Wei, Phoebe, Rusiana Gaitana, Sonu, Ruth Sahanaya and three others from Paris, Brazil and Oman.


Nobel Prize in Chemistry

In 1981, Hoffmann received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry, which he shared with Kenichi Fukui.

Other awards

  • Priestley Medal
  • Arthur C. Cope Award in Organic Chemistry
  • Organic Chemistry Award (American Chemical Society), 1969
  • Inorganic Chemistry Award (American Chemical Society), 1982
  • Pimentel Award in Chemical Education (1996)
  • Award in Pure Chemistry
  • Monsanto Award
  • Literaturpreis of the Verband der Chemischen Industrie for his textbook "The Same and Not The Same" (1997)
  • National Medal of Science
  • National Academy of Sciences
  • American Academy of Arts and Sciences Fellow
  • American Philosophical Society Fellow
  • Kolos Medal
  • Foreign Member, Royal Society
  • Member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences
  • Harvard Centennial Medalist
  • James T. Grady-James H. Stack Award for Interpreting Chemistry

Hoffmann is member of the International Academy of Quantum Molecular Science and is a member of the Board of Sponsors of The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists.

In August 2007, the American Chemical Society held a symposium at its biannual national meeting to honor Hoffmann's 70th birthday. He also has served as a consultant with Eli Lilly and Company, a global pharmaceutical corporation.

Read also: Roald Hoffman autobiography - The Nobel Foundation

view all

Roald Hoffmann (Safran), Nobel Prize in Chemistry 1981's Timeline

July 18, 1937
Złoczew, łódzkie, Poland