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Roald Hoffmann

Science Talent Search – 1955

About Roald Hoffmann

Renowned theoretical chemist Roald Hoffmann won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry 1981 for developing the Woodward-Hoffmann rules, a set of rules for predicting chemical reactions. Hoffmann competed in the 1955 STS, going on to earn a doctoral degree in chemical physics from Harvard University. He joined the faculty at Cornell University in 1965, where he studied and taught chemistry for over four decades. In 1983, he received the National Medal of Science for “the magnitude and uniqueness of his contributions to modern chemistry.” Hoffmann is also involved with the Society as an alumnus and is a member of its Honorary Board.

Science Talent Search 1955

Hoffmann in 1955 with his STS project, “Recording and Identification of Nuclear Particles.” He later said that STS strongly affected his career trajectory, helping him land a job at the National Bureau of Standards.

Notable Alumni - Roald Hoffmann and STS 1955 project

A letter from Hoffmann to Science Service (now called Society for Science) President Watson Davis, thanking him for the opportunity to participate in STS. Hoffmann and his family came to the U.S. in 1949 after fleeing Poland as refugees and surviving the Nazi occupation.

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A Powerful Story

Learn more about Hoffmann in this Conversations with Maya interview.

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Notable Alumni Headshot -
Armin Kübelbeck, CC-BY-SA, Wikimedia Commons (
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Signature Event: Fireside Chat with Roald Hoffmann

Hoffmann continues to support the Society’s research competitions. In this video from 2020, Hoffmann speaks with Society President and CEO Maya Ajmera at the Society’s annual Signature Event.

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