Dr. Hochstrasser, Chemistry

Dr. Robin Hochstrasser, the Donner Professor of Physical Sciences in the department of chemistry, in Penn's School of Arts & Sciences, passed away on February 27, 2013, at the age of 82.

Born in Edinburgh, Scotland, Dr. Hochstrasser received his BSc. from Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh in 1952, and his PhD in chemistry from the University of Edinburgh in 1955. He then spent two years in the Royal Air Force, where he taught electronics to RAF navigators. He taught at the University of British Columbia from 1957-1962, joining the Penn faculty in 1963 where he would dedicate the next 50 years. Becoming the Donner Professor of Physical Science in 1982, Dr. Hochstrasser was also director of the Regional Laser and Biotechnology Laboratories at Penn.

His pioneering studies with femtosecond infrared pulses in the 1980s led to the development in the 1990s of a new kind of powerful spectroscopy, called two-dimensional infrared spectroscopy. This technique has made it possible for research laboratories to make molecular movies of the three-dimensional structure of proteins in action with unprecedented time resolution, and has defined a new role for ultrafast spectroscopic methods in chemistry, materials sciences, and biomedicine. His knowledge and expertise have had a wide-ranging impact at the University in physics, chemistry, biology, and medicine.

A pioneer and one of the world's foremost scientists in the application of lasers in chemical and biomedical research, Dr. Hochstrasser was awarded the Benjamin Franklin Medal in Chemistry in 2003 for the development of ultrafast and multi-dimensional spectroscopies. He was a member of the National Academy of Sciences; the American Academy of Arts and Sciences; and the Optical Society of America and a Fellow of the American Physical Society. He served as editor of Chemical Physics since 1975. He received numerous awards including the Bourke Medal of Faraday Society and the Linus Pauling Award, the CCNY Centennial Award and the A.C.S.E. Bright Wilson Award in Spectroscopy. Other awards he received include the Ahmed Zewail Award in Ultrafast Science & Technology, the Peter Debye Award, and the F. Alfred Cotton Medal. Dr. Hochstrasser was a J.S. Guggenheim Fellow, Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Fellow and a Couttauld Scholar. Additionally, he was the author of more than 500 original scientific papers and two books.

Dr. Hochstrasser is survived by his wife, Carol; daughter, Jennie and her husband, David Kasregis and one grandchild, Finnian.

In lieu of flowers donations may be made to the University of Pennsylvania Chemistry Discretionary Fund.