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Professor Zvonimir Maksić, Ph.D., Scientist Emeritus of the Ruđer Bošković Institute, Has Died

Mar 29th 2011

The areas of research in which Professor Maksić achieved significant results include molecular physics, theoretical chemistry and computational chemistry. He also worked on modeling hybridization in molecules, the electron-correlation problem in quantum chemistry, the nature of chemical bonding, the chemistry of acids and bases, and the design of new molecules with targeted properties, to name only a few of his interests. The long list of Maksić’s publications in distinguished international journals testifies to his scientific excellence as well as dedicated and continuous service. Such commitment requires genuine passion and scientific curiosity, which continued until the last days of his life.

He joined the Ruđer Bošković Institute in 1962, after graduating with a bachelor's degree in theoretical physics from the Faculty of Science, University of Zagreb. He earned a doctorate in 1968 under the mentorship of Milan Randić, focusing on the problem of the hybridization of organic molecules with pronounced angular strain. After a couple of years, he left to pursue postdoctoral studies at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville under John Bloor and spent 1972-73 at the University of Texas in Austin working with Michael J. S. Dewar. After returning to Croatia in 1973, he became a research associate at the RBI and in 1975 an assistant professor at the Faculty of Natural Sciences in Zagreb. Until his retirement in 2004, he worked at both institutions, successfully combining his extremely productive scientific work with the duties and obligations of a professor of undergraduate and graduate studies. He established the Quantum Organic Chemistry Group at the Division of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry of the RBI. Following retirement, he continued his scientific research with the same fervor, as evidenced by the unabated dynamics of his published works. In 2005, he was named scientist emeritus of the RBI.

Professor Maksić was the recipient of many major awards: the City of Zagreb Award for Outstanding Achievements in Scientific Research in 1976, the Republican Ruđer Bošković Award for Scientific Excellence in 1987, the Medallion of the Chemistry Department of the Faculty of Science in 2005, the National Lifetime Achievement Award in the Field of the Natural Sciences in 2008, and a plaque “for his pioneering contribution to the understanding of chemical bonds” on the occasion of his delivery of the Charles A. Coulson Lecture at the University of Georgia in Athens in 2008. As a recipient of the prestigious Alexander von Humboldt Fellowship, he spent the period from 1979 to 1981 as a visiting professor at the Institute of Organic Chemistry, University of Heidelberg. He also served as a visiting professor and scientist at the University of Münster and the University of Madrid in Cantoblanco, and was invited to lecture at many other universities and institutes across Europe and beyond. Professor Maksić served as the President of the Croatian Chemical Society (1988–1990), Head of the Department of Chemistry at the RBI (1995–1997), Deputy Director General of the RBI (1997–1999) and a Member of the Board of Governors of the RBI for two terms. He was the promoter of the Honoris Causa Doctorate for the two-time Nobel laureate Linus Pauling in 1988 at the University of Zagreb. Among Professor Maksić's important achievements is certainly his “Appeal for Peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Stability in the Balkans,” written in May 1992 and signed by 84 Novel laureates. Among them were Abdus Salam, as the first signer, Vladimir Prelog and Linus Pauling, with whom Professor Maksić shared a long collegial friendship.

During his impressive 48-year scientific career, Professor Maksić published over 250 original research articles, 23 review articles and chapters in monographs, which have been cited over 3,500 times. He wrote two books: Kvantna kemija [Quantum Chemistry] (Liber, Zagreb, 1976) and Simetrija u kemiji [Symmetry in Chemistry] (Školska knjiga, Zagreb, 1979, in collaboration with N. Trinajstić and L. Klasinc). He attempted to convey his enthusiasm, creativity, perseverance in work and scientific excellence to students and junior colleagues, which resulted in a large number of successfully defended bachelor's, master's and doctoral theses. He organized international scientific conferences in Croatia and elsewhere, was a member of the editorial boards of distinguished scientific journals, and edited the following series: Modelling of Structure and Properties of Molecules, 1987, Theoretical Models of Chemical Bonding (4 volumes, published in 1990-91), and together with P. Politzer Theoretical and Computational Chemistry (16 volumes from 1994 to the present).

The funeral for Professor Zvonimir Maksić will be held on Thursday, March 31, 2011, at 10:40 a.m. at the Crematorium in Zagreb.

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