Hoffman is the Frank H. T. Rhodes Professor of Humane Letters, Emeritus, at Cornell University, in Ithaca, New York. He received his Bachelor of Arts degree at Columbia University in 1958. He earned his Master of Arts degree from Harvard University in 1960. He also received his Ph.D. from Harvard University. Hoffman won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1981.
Hoffman, a Holocaust survivor, has had an amazing academic and research career in chemistry in the United States. His primary focus has been on the important topic of molecular orbital theory, in particular of polyhedral molecules, which have important applications in a number of areas in physics and chemistry. Hoffman’s work leading to the Nobel Prize isolated the products formed when heating compounds with heat or by activation with light. He has also performed fundamental research on a class of chemical compounds known as organometallic, that is, having at least one chemical bond between a carbon atom and a metal.
In addition to the Nobel Prize awarded in 1981, Hoffman won the National Medal of Science in 1983, and the Priestley Medal in 1990, named after famed 19th century chemist Joseph Priestley. He has also served as series host in a PBS education series titled The World of Chemistry. Hoffman was elected Fellow of the American Chemical Society in 2009.
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