Lecture at the RBI by Prof. Vlasta Bonačić-Koutecký, Ph.D.
Prof. Vlasta Bonačić-Koutecký, Ph.D., is a distinguished scientist of Croatian origin with an international reputation, whose scientific career began as a research associate at the RBI. She completed her doctorate at Johns Hopkins University in the USA and, following postdoctoral studies at Yeshiva University in New York, she became an assistant professor of theoretical chemistry at Freie University in Berlin. Since 1994, she has been a professor of physical and theoretical chemistry at Humboldt University in Berlin. She has also been a visiting professor at a number of European, American and Japanese universities. In 2009, she received an honorary doctorate from Université Claude Bernard Lyon 1. In the year 2010, she launched the Interdisciplinary Center for Advanced Science and Technology (ICAST) at the University of Split. She is the author of over 200 scientific papers in leading scientific journals. These papers have been cited more than 6,500 times, which places her among the ranks of the most frequently cited Croatian scientists.
Prof. Vlasta Bonačić-Koutecký is regarded as a pioneer in the field of theoretical organic photochemistry, to which she has made many fundamental contributions. One of Prof. Bonačić-Koutecký's most famous discoveries is the role of conical intersections in photochemical processes, for example, in the vision process. These discoveries opened new fields in photochemistry and facilitated understanding of ultrafast molecular reactions. Furthermore, Prof. Vlasta Bonačić-Koutecký recognized the unique properties of small metal nanoparticles (clusters) such as the discovery of absorption and emission enhancement in hybrid systems between nanoparticles and biomolecules, which represents the basis for the application of these small metal nonoparticles in bioanalytics and biomedicine. At the same time, her research is characterized by the close collaboration of her group with numerous experimental research teams, which is known and highly respected internationally. Today, her research team has several main objectives: ab initio quantum chemistry and dynamics, chemical reaction control with tailored laser fields (ultrashort laser pulse shaping); the optical properties of hybrid systems with small metal clusters and the structure-reactivity relationships of metal oxide clusters as foundations for the development and design of nanoscale catalytic materials. During her career, she has placed particular emphasis on the promotion of young talented scientists, which has resulted in a number of successful scientific careers.