Nobel laureate Roald Hoffmann shares an untold story about science and immigration as part of our new Science and Society speaker series.

Hoffmann personally knew Chinese scientists Tang Ao-Qing (1915–2008) and Lu Jiaxi (1915–2001). Both received their critical training in the U.S. and returned to China in the late 1940s. He shares how these two men built Chinese physical and theoretical chemistry, but also reveals how political developments in China post-1949 shaped their lives and futures. Hoffmann reflects on his own experiences as an immigrant to America from a very different place, and how he came to know and appreciate these remarkable chemists.

In-person attendees enjoyed a curator’s tour of Migrating Science: Stories of Immigration and Innovation and a reception with Hoffmann after the event.

About the Speaker

Roald Hoffmann is Frank H. T. Rhodes Professor, Emeritus, in the Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology at Cornell University. He was born in 1937 in Złoczów, then Poland, now Ukraine. He came to the United States in 1949 and has long been at Cornell, active as a theoretical chemist. He has taught his colleagues how to think about electrons influencing structure and reactivity and won most of the honors in his profession. Hoffmann is also a writer, carving out his own land between poetry, philosophy, and science.

About the Series

Our Science and Society speaker series explores the history of science embedded in our everyday lives. We invite scientists, historians, policymakers, and educators for engaging, in-depth conversations that expand our perspectives. Program formats include lectures, interviews, roundtables, and book launches. Science and Society events are curated for an adult audience, fostering curiosity, conversation, and interactivity. Each evening concludes with a free reception with the speakers.


Featured image of Roald Hoffmann by Volker Steger.

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