President’s Lecture Series to Feature Nobel Prize Winner in Chemistry

March 14, 2016

MISSOULA – A winner of the 1981 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, poet and playwright will deliver the next installment of the 2015-16 President’s Lecture Series at the University of Montana.

Roald Hoffmann, who is a professor emeritus of humane letters at Cornell University, will present “The Commonalities and Differences Between the Arts and Sciences” at 8 p.m. Monday, March 21, in the Dennison Theatre. The lecture is presented in collaboration with UM’s Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry and the UM Division of Biological Sciences.

Hoffmann also will lead a seminar earlier that day titled “Two New Games for Carbon” at 3:10 p.m. in Gallagher Business Building Room 123. The lecture and seminar both are free and open to the public.

Born in 1937 in Poland and a survivor of the war, Hoffmann came to the United States 12 years later and earned a doctorate from Harvard in 1962. At Cornell he taught general chemistry to first-year students, as well as courses in bonding theory and quantum mechanics.

His research focuses on the electrical structure of stable and unstable molecules, transition states in reactions, and the application of quantum chemical computational methods and qualitative arguments.

Hoffmann has published two books in his field of research, “The Conservation of Orbital Symmetry” and “Solids and Surfaces: A Chemist’s View of Bonding in Extended Structures,” and has written 610 scientific papers on other research topics.

Hoffmann’s interests have stretched into television, playwriting and poetry. He helped produce “The World of Chemistry,” a television course on introductory chemistry widely aired since 1990. He has contributed poetry to literary magazines since the 1970s, published poetry collections and co-written the play “Oxygen,” which has been translated into 10 different languages. His most recent plays include “Should’ve” and “We Have Something That Belongs to You.” He has lectured all over the world, receiving honorary degrees and other awards.

To read a biography and learn more about Hoffmann, visit his website at

The President’s Lecture Series at UM consists of eight talks throughout the academic year on vital topics by distinguished guest speakers. For more information on the series, visit or call UM history Professor Richard Drake at 406-243-2981. 

Contact: Richard Drake, UM history professor and lecture series organizer, 406-243-2981,