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Ortiz Quantum Chemistry Group

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[J. V. Ortiz 25 January 2013]

J. V. Ortiz
Ruth W. Molette Professor Emeritus

Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry
Auburn University
Auburn, AL 36849-5312

Telephone: (334) 844-6998
Fax: (334) 844-6959
E-Mail: ortiz at

J. V. Ortiz was born in Bethpage, New York in 1956 and attended public schools in Plainview, New York until 1973. After obtaining a B.S. in Chemistry with High Honors at the University of Florida in 1976, he began graduate work in the Quantum Theory Project of the same university and completed his dissertation in 1981 under the supervision of Yngve Öhrn, earning a Ph.D. in Chemistry with a certificate in Chemical Physics. After two years as a postdoctoral fellow at Harvard University with William Lipscomb and at Cornell University with Roald Hoffman, he spent thirteen years at the University of New Mexico. In December, 1996, he joined the Chemistry Department of Kansas State University and was named a University Distinguished Professor in April, 2004. He became the first Ruth W. Molette Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry at Auburn University in August, 2006 and simultaneously began serving as Chairman of the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry. His second, four-year term ended in August, 2014. After retiring from teaching in 2023, he acquired his present title, Ruth W. Molette Professor Emeritus.

Dr. Ortiz has taught a variety of topics, from basic chemistry for nontechnical majors to advanced methods of quantum mechanics. He continues to supervise a group that specializes in his area of research, quantum chemistry. This field is concerned with the prediction and explanation of the properties of atoms, molecules and solids using computers, principles of physics and mathematical methods. His group is engaged in the derivation and programming of new quantum mechanical methods for calculating molecular spectra. A special emphasis has been the development of ab initio propagator theories which combine the rigor of many-body formalisms with chemically perspicuous orbital concepts. Recent applications have included molecules of importance in biochemistry (e.g. nucleotides, porphyrins) or materials science (e.g. fullerenes, polysilanes, aluminum oxide clusters), gas-phase species with unusual electronic structure (e.g. double Rydberg, multiply charged and diffusely bound anions, solvated electron precursors) and small anions embedded in solvents. Professor Ortiz has published more than 260 papers in scientific journals, has delivered over 220 invited lectures, is among the authors of the widely used Gaussian quantum chemistry packages, has served on the Editorial Boards of the Journal of Chemical Physics and the International Journal of Quantum Chemistry and is a consultant to federal agencies, historically black colleges and universities, Hispanic-serving institutions and private research organizations. He is a member of the American Chemical Society (ACS), the American Physical Society, the International Society for Theoretical Chemical Physics, the World Association of Theoretically Oriented Chemists, the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), the American Association of University Professors and the National Organization for the Professional Advancement of Black Chemists and Chemical Engineers (NOBCChE), was elected to a three-year term on the Executive Board of NOBCChE as Director-At-Large in 2016, has been a Fellow of the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science in 2002, has received the Erwin W. Segebrecht Distinguished Faculty Achievement Award in 2001, the Commerce Bank Distinguished Graduate Faculty Award in 2002, the NOBCChE President's Award in 2012 and 2023, the Stanley C. Israel Regional Award for Advancing Diversity in the Chemical Sciences from the ACS in 2014, the Faculty Research and Service/Outreach Awards of the College of Sciences and Mathematics respectively in the 2014-2015 and 2020-2021 academic years, and the 2014 Charles H. Stone Award of the Carolina-Piedmont Section of the ACS for the most outstanding chemist in the southeastern United States, and was elected a Fellow of AAAS in 2017, a member of Sigma Xi in 2018 and a Fellow of ACS in 2019.

Research Interests

  • Molecular electronic structure theory
    • Propagator theory of spectra
    • Analysis of chemical bonding
    • Qualitative theories of structure, spectra, and reactivity
  • Applications of molecular electronic structure theory
    • Nucleotides, porphyrins and other molecules of biochemical importance
    • Fullerenes, metal-oxide anions and other clusters of interest in materials research
    • Double Rydberg, diffusely-bound, multiply-charged and other anions with unusual electronic structure
    • Solvated electron precursors
    • Anions that interact strongly with solvents
  • Publications

Teaching Interests

  • Graduate instruction
    • Quantum theory of chemical bonding and spectra
    • Computational methods for calculating and interpreting molecular properties
  • Undergraduate instruction
    • Chemistry in liberal education
    • Freshman chemistry
    • Physical chemistry

Service Interests

  • Equal opportunity in scientific research and education
  • Scientific collaboration in the Americas


  • Ruth W. Molette Professor Emeritus of Chemistry and Biochemistry (2023-present) Auburn University
  • Ruth W. Molette Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry (2006-2023) Auburn University
  • Chairman of Chemistry and Biochemistry (2006-14) Auburn University
  • University Distinguished Professor (2004-6) Kansas State University
  • Professor (1996-2004) Kansas State University
  • Professor (1994-96) University of New Mexico
  • Visiting Associate Professor (1993) University of Utah
  • Visiting Associate Professor (1992) University of Florida
  • Associate Professor (1989-94) University of New Mexico
  • Assistant Professor (1983-89) University of New Mexico
  • Postdoctoral Fellow (1982-83) Cornell University
  • Research Fellow (1981-82) Harvard University


  • Ph.D., Chemistry with Chemical Physics Certificate, University of Florida (1981)
  • B.S. with High Honors, Chemistry, University of Florida (1976)