Roald Hoffmann ’55

2022 Benefit for Stuyvesant - The Golden Pegleg Award

You can read more about Dr. Roald Hoffmann in our feature article on him here

Roald Hoffmann, the 1981 Nobel Prize Laureate in Chemistry

Roald Hoffmann, PhD ’55 won the 1981 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his work with Robert B. Woodward to develop the Woodward-Hoffmann rules, regarded as one of the most important conceptual advancements in theoretical organic chemistry in the last century. The rules gave chemists a powerful tool for predicting the pathways that chemical reactions may follow. In 1990, he also received the Priestley Medal of the American Chemical Society, chemistry’s highest honor.

Dr. Hoffmann was born in 1937 in Złoczów, Poland and survived through a Nazi-occupied Poland by hiding in the attic of a Ukrainian schoolhouse. Decades later, he wrote a semi-autobiographical play, “Something that Belongs to You,” based on his experiences and memories from that time. Dr. Hoffmann entered Stuyvesant in 1951, two years after he and his family emigrated to America from Poland. He received his Bachelor of Arts from Columbia University and completed his Masters and PhD in Chemistry from Harvard University.

Since 1965, Dr. Hoffmann has taught chemistry at Cornell and became the Frank H.T. Rhodes Professor of Human Letters in 1996. In addition to the 650+ scientific articles attached to his name, Dr. Hoffmann has also published seven collections of poetry, three plays, and five books of nonfiction.