Department History

The Department of Chemistry became the Department of Chemistry & Chemical Biology in 1999.

Home of the Department

  • Physical Sciences Building (2010-Present): Opened in 2010, the Physical Sciences Building joined the Department of Physics, the School of Applied and Engineering Physics, and the Department of Chemistry & Chemical Biology under one roof. Features include highly specialized labs and interdisciplinary spaces, state-of-the-art lecture halls and learning labs, as well as dramatic public spaces serving as a social hub for the entire Arts Quad.
  • Spencer T. Olin Laboratory (1967-Present): Constructed in 1967 to house the growing demand for research on campus and currently houses faculty offices and research labs.
  • Baker Laboratory (1923-Present): Built in 1921 to replace Morse Hall, the construction of Baker Laboratory was one of the first postwar projects on campus and currently houses classrooms, faculty offices, and research labs.
  • Morse Hall (1890-1923): Constructed in 1889 to house the Department of Chemistry, the upper two stories and most of the basement of Morse Hall were destroyed by the Fire of 1916. The remains of the building were turned into an Art Gallery and finally torn down in 1954. Eventually this site was occupied by the Johnson Art Museum, built in 1973.
  • Franklin Hall (1883-1890): Built in 1881 to house Physics and Chemistry laboratories. The idea of placing memorial medallions to commemorate the work of great scientists in Franklin Hall was suggested by President A. D. White, who bought a similar series of medals in Berlin in 1881. Franklin Hall symbolized Cornell's strength in the Sciences and was one of the most advanced laboratories of Electrical Engineering at the time. Franklin Hall is now known as Olive Tjaden Hall, and its spacious well-planned laboratories have now been repurposed to serve as studios for the Department of Art.
  • Wooden Laboratory (1870-1883): A temporary wooden-frame building served as the Department of Chemistry and Physics for 12 years. It was erected on the site where the north wing of Goldwin Smith Hall now stands.
  • Morrill Hall (1868-1870): Constructed in 1866, the Chemistry department was located in the basement of Morrill Hall where the lighting was dim, the ceilings low, and the ventilation poor.

Department Leadership

  • Department Chair
  • Brian R. Crane, 2018-Present
  • David Collum, 2013-2017
  • Barbara Baird, 2008-2013
  • Héctor D. Abruña, 2004-2008
  • Barry K. Carpenter, 2001-2004
  • Paul L. Houston, 1997-2001
  • Bruce Ganem, 1993-1997
  • Jon C. Clardy, 1988-1993
  • John R. Wiesenfeld, 1984-1988
  • Roald Hoffmann, 1981-1984
  • Benjmain Widom, 1978-1981
  • Michael E. Fisher, 1975-1978
  • Gordon Hammes, 1969-1975
  • Robert A. Plane, 1967-1969
  • Harold A. Scheraga, 1960-1967
  • Frank A. Long, 1950-1960
  • Peter J. W. Debye, 1940-1949
  • Jacob Papish, 1932-1939
  • Louis M. Dennis, 1903-1931
  • George C. Caldwell, 1887-1902
  • Charles A. Schaeffer, 1886-1887
  • George C. Caldwell, 1869-1886
  • James M. Crafts, 1867-1869

Notable Distinctions

  • Roald Hoffmann (with Kenichi Fukui),1981
  • Paul Flory, 1974
  • Vincent du Vigneaud, 1955
  • Peter J. W. Debye, 1936
  • Héctor D. Abruña, 2018
  • Geoffrey W. Coates, 2017
  • Francis DiSalvo, 1991
  • Fred McLafferty, 1982
  • Benjamin Widom, 1974
  • Roald Hoffmann, 1972
  • Jerrold Meinwald, 1969
  • Harold Scheraga, 1966
  • William Dichtel, 2015
  • Stephen Lee, 1994
  • Barbara A. Baird, 2008
  • Héctor D. Abruña, 2007
  • Paul Lyon Houston, 2003
  • Peter T. Wolczanski, 1999
  • Jack Freed, 1994
  • Francis DiSalvo, 1992
  • Fred McLafferty, 1985
  • Benjamin Widom, 1979
  • Roald Hoffmann, 1971
  • Jerrold Meinwald, 1970
  • Harold Scheraga, 1967
  • Benjamin Widom, 1993
  • Jerrold Meinwald, 1987
  • Roald Hoffmann, 1984
  • Jerrold Meinwald, 2014
  • Roald Hoffmann, 1983
  • Peter J. W. Debye, 1965

Chemistry & Chemical Biology: Oral History Project

A Conversation with...

In Memoriam

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Emeritus Faculty

Retired Faculty