Robin M Hochstrasser was born in Edinburgh, Scotland in 1931. He earned a B.Sc. degree from Edinburgh’s Heriot-Watt University in 1952 and a Ph.D. in chemistry from the University of Edinburgh in 1955. After serving two years in the Royal Air Force, he became an instructor, teaching basic electronics associated with high altitude radar displays. In 1957, he became first an instructor and later an assistant professor at the University of British Columbia. In 1963 he moved to the University of Pennsylvania, spent the remainder of his career.
Hochstrasser was the Donner Professor of Physical Sciences at Penn. Since 1979, he was the Director of the University’s Regional Laser and Biotechnology Laboratories, which has been a major national resource sponsored by the National Institutes of Health for the development and application of advanced laser technologies to problems in biomedicine. From 1975-2012 he was editor of the journal, Chemical Physics. His other professional positions included Chair of the John Scott Advisory Panel for the City of Philadelphia (1985-2013); Honorary Professor of Physics, Strathclyde University (2000-2013); Chair of the American Chemical Society Division of Biophysical Chemistry (1998); Chair of the American Physical Society Division of Chemical Physics (1998); Professor Associé, University of Paris (1987); Christianson Fellow, St. Catherine’s College, Oxford University (1982); Visiting Professor, University of Munich (1980); Visiting Professor, California Institute of Technology (1975); Citée de Grenoble Professor, University of Grenoble (1989); Visiting Professor, Australian National University, Canberra (1973); Visiting Professor, and Fellow of Clare College, Cambridge University, England (1972).
Hochstrasser was a member of the National Academy of Sciences since 1982. His scientific contributions have been recognized by many other honors and awards, including the Linus Pauling Award (2012), the Pittsburgh Spectroscopy Award (2010); Honorary Fellow, Royal Society of Edinburgh (2008); A. H. Zewail Award in Ultrafast Science and Technology (2007); F. Albert Cotton Medal, Texas A&M (2005); Benjamin Franklin Medal in Chemistry (2003); Centenary Silver Medal of the Royal Society of Chemistry (2000); E. Bright Wilson Award in Spectroscopy (1998); Ellis R. Lippincott Award of OSA (1997); LICOR Award, University of Nebraska (1996); Peter Debye Award in Physical Chemistry (1996); National Institute of Health Merit Award (1990-2000); A.C.S. Philadelphia Section Award (1990); OSA Fellow (1989); SPIE Special President's Award (1986); Heriot-Watt University, Scotland, D. Sc., (Honoris Causa) (1984); Fellow, American Academy of Arts and Sciences (1982); Bourke Medal, Faraday Society (1981); Alexander von Humboldt Senior Fellow (1978); American Physical Society, Fellow (1978); Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Fellow (1962-1967); John Simon Guggenheim Fellow (1972); Courtauld Scholar (1952-1955). Hochstrasser was to receive the Honorary degree of Doctor of Science from the University of Edinburgh on the occasion of the 300th anniversary of its School of Chemistry in June 2013.
Robin M Hochstrasser passed away in 2013.