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Rory A. More O’Ferrall

by Susan J. Ainsworth
December 10, 2012 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 90, Issue 50

Photo of Rory A. More O'Ferrall.

Rory A. More O’Ferrall, 74, a professor emer­itus of chemistry at University College Dublin (UCD) who made seminal contributions to physical organic chemistry, died on June 15.

Born in Sevenoaks, England, More O’Ferrall attended University College London, earning a B.Sc. in 1958 and a Ph.D. in 1961 under John H. Ridd.

He served as a postdoctoral fellow and an assistant professor in Illinois Institute of Technology’s chemistry department from 1961 to 1965. He then returned to England as the Imperial Chemical Industries Research Fellow in the University of Oxford’s physical chemistry laboratories.

After two years as a visiting assistant professor at Rice University in Houston, he joined the academic staff at UCD. He headed UCD’s chemistry department from 1999 until 2003. He retired in 2004 but maintained an active research program until his death.

More O’Ferrall’s work focused on the study of mechanisms and reactivity in organic chemistry. He is best known for popularizing and lending his name to three-dimensional More O’Ferrall-Jencks diagrams, which are widely used in structure-reactivity studies on complex organic reactions.

He is credited with more than 100 publications and served on the editorial boards of several organic chemistry journals.

Elected as a member of the Royal Irish Academy, he received the 2006 Boyle-Higgins Gold Medal from the Institute of Chemistry of Ireland. An emeritus member of ACS, he joined in 1962.

He is survived by his wife, Margaret; son, Daniel; daughters, Ruth and Clare; and several grandchildren.

Obituary notices of no more than 300 words may be sent to Susan J. Ainsworth at and should include an educational and professional history.


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