Darleane Christian Hoffman was born in 1926 and received her B.S. (1948) in Chemistry and her Ph.D (1951) in Physical (Nuclear) Chemistry from Iowa State University. She was employed as a chemist (1952-1953) at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory and was a staff member of the Radiochemistry Group (1953-1971); Associate Group Leader of the Radiochemistry Group (1971-1979); Division Leader of the Chemistry-Nuclear Chemistry Division (1979-1982); and Division Leader of the Isotope and Nuclear Chemistry Division (1982-1984), all at the Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory. From 1984 till 1991 she was a professor in the Department of Chemistry at the University of California at Berkeley and professor emeritus from 1991 until 1993. Her current positions are the Faculty Senior Scientist and Group Leader (1984- ) at the Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory, Senior Advisor and Charter Director (1996- ) of the Glenn T. Seaborg Institute for Transactinium Science where she was Director from 1991-96, and Professor (1993- ) in the University of California at Berkeley Graduate School. 

Carolyn Gannett and Dr. Darleane C. Hoffman, 1988
Lawrence Berkeley Laboratories

Her research interests include rapid chemical separation of short-lived fission products; nuclear structure; chemical and nuclear properties of the heaviest elements; studies of the spontaneous fission process; heavy ion reactions; and the search for heavy elements in nature. Dr. Hoffman's professional career is marked by significant discoveries in the field of nuclear chemistry.  She is especially noted for the discovery of Plutonium-244 in nature, the elucidation of the spontaneous fission process and mechanism including first observation of abrupt changes of properties in the fermium (Z=100) region, the production of new heavy element isotopes, and studies of the chemical properties of the heaviest elements.

Van de Graaf Accelerator Facility--Discovery of 1.5-second 259 FM
Los Alamos National Laboratory, 1975

American Chemical Society
Award for Nuclear Chemistry
Presented by Dr. Glenn T. Seaborg to Dr. Darleane C. Hoffman

She is a member of numerous professional organizations and advisory committees, including the American Chemical Society (Fellow), the American Institute of Chemists, the American Physical Society, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and other honorary societies. Among the awards she has received are the John Dustin Clark Award (1976); Alumni Citation of Merit, Iowa State University (1978);
the American Chemical Society Award for Nuclear Chemistry (1983); the Garvan Medal (1990) for contributions to the physics and chemistry of the heaviest elements; University of California Berkeley Citation of Merit (1996); the Presidentís National Medal of Science in 1997; and the Priestley Medal (the highest honor conferred by the American Chemical Society) in 2000. 


1998 Oral History Interview with Dr. Darleane C. Hoffman

In 1944 Darleane Christian arrived at Iowa State to major in art.  Here she describes what inspired her to change her major from art to chemistry...

DH:    Things to learn about.  Even though I started out in applied art and found I didnít like applied art. I had no talent for it.  The chemistry courseóI had to take a standard Home Ec freshman course, which included chemistry.

TZB:  Right, did only the women have to take that or did men and women take that together, that Home Ec-chemistry course?

DH:    No, it was just for Home Ec majors and so I had to take it.  I also had to take history.  I tested out of English so I was in a creative writing course instead.  That was a marvelous course, but I sweated blood over that course because Iím not a creative writer in the sense of thinking of things from whole cloth, but I learned a lot.  I would get up in the middle of the night and write my creative writing themes.

          Anyhow, I found out that chemistry was the thing I really liked.

TZB:  What really intrigued you?

DH:    I believe that I was lucky that I had to take the home ec chemistry course because Professor Naylor somehow just struck a chord with me.  Chemistry seemed like the most logical science.  You could see where it was going, how things went together.  Probably if Iíd taken the regular chemistry course I wouldnít have felt that way.  She was not a mentor in the sense that we usually talk about because I donít think she even knew who I was. 

TZB:  Just the way she piqued your interest in this subject.

DH:    It was the way she taught it.  At the time I donít think she realized it and Iíve since thought when I teach, sometimes youíll think, ďWell, Iím not getting through to anybody.Ē  Then youíll get a note a couple years later, somebody saying, ďYou really turned me on.  It meant a lot,Ē and from that experience Iíve thought how important it is that professors that teach the freshmen as well as the upper class students.



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Twentieth Century Women of Iowa State University
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