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Fellows Directory

Roald Hoffmann

Professor Roald Hoffmann ForMemRS

Foreign Member

Elected: 1984


Roald Hoffmann is a chemist who applies quantum mechanics to explain chemical reactions and chemical compounds. He shared the 1981 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his contributions to the theory of the course of chemical reactions.

Roald and R. B. Woodward developed a set of rules that enable chemists to predict the course of chemical reactions. Considered an important unifying principle in organic chemistry, this work is published in R. B. and Roald’s book, The Conservation of Orbital Symmetry (1971). Roald’s way of using molecular orbitals has influenced inorganic and organometallic chemistry as well, and has a built a bridge to solid state physics.

Roald co-presented the 1990s US television series The World of Chemistry and has written five books that cross the boundaries between science, poetry and philosophy. He has also written plays. In 1965, he joined Cornell University where he is now an Emeritus Professor and continues to explore the links between chemistry and the arts.

Professional positions

Frank H. T. Rhodes Professor of Humane Letters Emeritus, Department of Chemistry, Cornell University

Interests and expertise


High pressure, Inorganic chemistry, Theoretical chemistry


  • Nobel Prize in Chemistry

    Jointly with Kenichi Fukui for their theories, developed independently, concerning the course of chemical reactions.