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The Holland Research School of Molecular Chemistry (HRSMC) will soon be welcoming three Nobel Prize winners in chemistry: William E. Moerner (2014), Arieh Warshel (2013) and Roald Hoffmann (1981).

The laureates will be speaking at a symposium on Thursday, 20 November and Friday, 21 November to mark the 20th anniversary of the research school, which is run as a consortium by the University of Amsterdam (UvA), VU University Amsterdam and Leiden University. Prior to this, on Wednesday, 19 November, first-year Chemistry students will have the opportunity to ask questions to Warshel and Hoffmann about their research and their scientific careers, in a ‘Chemistry Tour’ at Science Park Amsterdam.

Roald Hoffmann is an expert in reaction theory, Arieh Warshel developed the foundations for numeric modelling, and William E. Moerner – one of this year’s laureates – has pioneered techniques for studying individual molecules with laser beams. The expertise of the three Nobel laureates therefore fits well with the profile of the HRSMC, where research combines chemical synthesis with spectroscopic characterisation and the theoretical and numerical description of molecular systems. 

Stimulating role

‘The presence of three Nobel Prize winners underscores the HRSMC's important role in advancing chemistry in the Netherlands’, says Prof. Wybren Jan Buma, scientific director of the HRSMC and professor of Molecular Spectroscopy at the UvA. ‘The HRSMC tackles contemporary social issues related to sustainability, energy and health from a broad molecular perspective. We aim to train talented PhD candidates and Master’s students in Chemistry, and teaching and research are inextricably linked in that process. Providing our researchers and students with a first-hand opportunity to learn more about the work of Moerner, Warshel and Hoffmann ties in perfectly with our mission, which is to offer a stimulating and challenging research and teaching environment.’ 

Chemistry Tour

The UvA is using the Nobel Prize winners' visit as an opportunity to launch a new initiative in the Chemistry tutorial scheme: the Chemistry Tour. This will provide first-year Chemistry students with exclusive access to Warshel and Hoffmann and their groundbreaking research in a talk show-type setting. With the help of their lecturers, Chemistry students from the UvA, VU University Amsterdam and Leiden University (the HRSMC partners) have been working hard to prepare over the past few weeks. The Chemistry Tour is being moderated by Martijn van Calmthout, a science journalist at the newspaper De Volkskrant and the presenter of the KennisCafé events at De Balie. The UvA and VU University Amsterdam plan to make the Chemistry Tour featuring Nobel Prize winners an annual event.

The Chemistry Tour is open exclusively to first-year Chemistry students at the UvA, VU University Amsterdam and Leiden University.