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In Memoriam: Corwin Hansch

Corwin Hansch, emeriti professor of chemistry at Pomona College

Emeritus faculty member Corwin H. Hansch died in Claremont on May 8 at the age of 92, after a long bout with pneumonia. He served on the Pomona faculty from 1946 until 1988. Even after retiring from teaching, he continued with his research in the Chemistry Department until 2010.

Professor Corwin Hansch, the founder of Quantitative Structure Activity Relationships (QSAR), received his B.S. in Chemistry from the University of Illinois and his PhD from New York University. After a brief postdoctoral stint at the University of Illinois, Chicago, he worked on the Manhattan Project at the University of Chicago and at DuPont Nemours in Richland, Washington. After World War II ended, he took a position as a research chemist at DuPont but left shortly thereafter, coming to Pomona College in 1946. During his tenure, he completed two sabbaticals at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich and at the University of Munich.

After arriving at Pomona he soon changed his research from the study of high temperature dehydrogenations to the correlation of biological activity with chemical structure; this led to the development of his seminal work in QSAR. He came to be recognized as the “father of computer-assisted molecular design,” and the methodology that he spawned is now utilized in most pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies.

Hansch published numerous books and more than 400 publications. He was the recipient of many awards, including two Wig Awards, a Guggenheim Fellowship and numerous accolades from the American, Italian, and Japanese Chemical Societies. He was elected to the Royal Society of Chemistry in 1990 and inducted into the American Chemical Society, Medicinal Chemistry Hall of Fame in 2007. He mentored a large number of undergraduate students and more than 40 visiting scientists and postdoctoral scholars. He helped raise the profile of undergraduate research at the College as well as encouraging donors like Fred Robbins to endow generous lectureships to bring scientists of Nobel Laureate stature to the campus.

Professor Hansch was preceded in death by his daughter, Carol. He is survived by his wife Gloria, son Clifford, and son-in-law Brian Hemminger.

Personal Tributes

To submit your own personal tribute to Corwin Hansch, please email communications@pomona.edu. We will post your memories and thoughts on our Personal Tributes page.

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