Roald Hoffmann, “The Same and Not the Same: The Many Faces of Diversity in Science and Society”

Diversity as a concept has many meanings. For some it is the belief that diversity enriches both the natural world and our individual lives. At the same time, diversity has for some become a code word for something they feel uncomfortable with, a threat of unfair entitlement.

Join us for an evening with Nobel laureate Roald Hoffmann, where he examines the many aspects of diversity in chemistry, biology, and the social sciences. Hoffmann’s lecture explores the value of diversity on both philosophical and social grounds, and what diversity means to our society.

6:00 p.m. Lecture
7:00 p.m. Reception

This annual award and lecture, endowed in 1990 by chemist Glenn Edgar Ullyot, seeks to illustrate how chemistry, biology, and the sciences in general contribute to the public welfare.

About the Speaker

Roald Hoffmann, a Nobel laureate, poet, and playwright, is a tireless advocate of the wonders of science and the beauty of chemistry. Born in 1937 in Złoczów, Poland, Hoffmann came to the United States in 1949 and studied chemistry at Columbia University. He earned his doctoral degree from Harvard University in 1962. In 1965 Hoffmann began working at Cornell University, where he is the Frank H. T. Rhodes Professor of Humane Letters, Emeritus.

Hoffmann likes to characterize his contribution to chemistry as “applied theoretical chemistry,” his own blend of computations stimulated by experiment and coupled to the construction of generalized models, or frameworks for understanding. In 1965, in collaboration with Nobel laureate R. B. Woodward, he introduced the Woodward-Hoffmann rules, a method for exploring the electronic structure of transition states and intermediates in organic reactions. He received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1981, jointly with Kenichi Fukui, for his theories concerning the course of chemical reactions.

Hoffmann has received the National Medal of Science and several awards from the American Chemical Society, including the Priestley Medal, the Arthur C. Cope Award in Organic Chemistry, and the Award in Inorganic Chemistry. He holds more than 25 honorary degrees and is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Philosophical Society, and several foreign academies. He has published more than 600 scientific articles.

As a writer, Hoffmann has carved out a land between science, poetry, and philosophy, through many essays, five nonfiction books, three plays, and five published collections of poetry, including bilingual Spanish-English and Russian-English editions. Hoffmann was also the presenter of a television series, The World of Chemistry, that aired on PBS and on stations worldwide. 

More information

For more information about this event, please contact Sarah Reisert at or 215.873.8263.

This program is presented in partnership with the Philadelphia and Delaware Sections of the American Chemical Society, the Department of Chemistry at the University of Pennsylvania, and the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at the University of the Sciences in Philadelphia.

The Same and Not the Same: The Many Faces of Diversity in Science and Society

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