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Ullyot Public Affairs Lecture

In 1990 chemist Glenn Edgar Ullyot endowed a public lecture with the Philadelphia Section of the American Chemical Society. The goal: that this annual lecture would inform the audience of how chemistry, biology, and the sciences in general contribute to the public welfare.

In the years since, esteemed scientists, journalists, government and business leaders, and even Nobel laureates have addressed audiences at this popular lecture. It is presented jointly by the Science History Institute (where the lecture has been held since 1997), the Department of Chemistry at the University of Pennsylvania, the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at the University of the Sciences, and the Philadelphia Section and Delaware Section of the American Chemical Society.

About the 2019 Lecturer: Roald Hoffmann

Roald Hoffmann (Pre-Cropped)

Roald Hoffmann

Roald Hoffmann

Michael Grace-Martin

On November 14, 2019, Roald Hoffmann delivered the 30th annual Ullyot Public Affairs Lecture at the Science History Institute in Philadelphia.

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.

Didn’t attend in person? Watch the lecture here.

Previous Ullyot Public Affairs Lecturers

The Ullyot Lecture has presented since 1990, jointly with the Institute since 1997. Lecturers that have presented at the Institute are

About the Sponsors

The Department of Chemistry at the University of Pennsylvania is composed of a dynamic community of researchers creating and disseminating new knowledge at the forefront of the chemical sciences. As an enabling science, chemistry is at the focal point of every important modern societal challenge. Our faculty and students engage these challenges daily on a local, national, and international scale.

The Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at the University of the Sciences is the home of the chemistry, biochemistry, and pharmaceutical chemistry majors, and the chemistry, biochemistry, and bioinformatics minors. With expertise distributed over all five of chemistry’s primary areas, the faculty engage in diverse, award-winning teaching and research activities that prepare students for such future opportunities as employment in industry, science teaching, and postgraduate training in graduate schools, medical school, and law school.

The American Chemical Society is a nonprofit organization chartered by the U.S. Congress. With more than 158,000 members, ACS is the world’s largest scientific society and a global leader in providing access to chemistry-related research through its multiple databases, peer-reviewed journals, and scientific conferences. Its main offices are in Washington, D.C., and Columbus, Ohio. The Philadelphia Section and Delaware Section are cosponsors of the Ullyot Public Affairs Lecture.