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In Memory of Professor Alan Roy Katritzky (1928-2014)

By: , Posted on: February 20, 2014

Alan KatritzkyAlan Roy Katritzky died on Feb 10, 2014 as the result of an accident. He was born in London, England on Aug 18, 1928 and after a distinguished school and university education, was awarded a BA with First Class Honors (1952) followed by a D.Phil (1954) from Oxford University under the supervision of Professor Sir Robert Robinson, at that time one of the most distinguished organic chemists in the world. He was also honored by the award of  a D.Sc degree from Cambridge University in 1963.

From 1954 to 1958 he worked as a postdoctoral fellow and college lecturer at Oxford University (Pembroke and Magdalen colleges), then moved to Cambridge University for 5 years as a university lecturer. In 1963 he was appointed Professor of Chemistry and Dean of the School of Chemical Sciences at the newly established University of East Anglia, England. In 1980 he moved to the University  of Florida and so began an extremely fruitful research career as the Kenan Professor and Director of the Center for Heterocyclic Chemistry at UF.

During 60 years of research, Professor Katritzky’s output was prodigious with over 2170 papers in the primary scientific literature plus authorship or editorship of more than 200 books. His work was recognized throughout the world by 33 honorary doctorates or professorships and awards including, among the latter, the Tilden Medal of the Royal Society of Chemistry (1975), the Robert Robinson Lectureship (2009) and the Cope Award of the American Chemical Society. He became a Fellow of the Royal Society, England in 1980 and a Fellow of the American Society for the Advancement of Science in the year 2000. His annual worldwide lecture tours were legendary and over the years he served as a consultant to 32 companies throughout Europe and North America. His academic career included the supervision of more than 300 graduate students and he worked with over 500 visiting faculty and postdoctoral fellows. His collaboration with some 80 companies brought revenue in excess of $30 million to the University of Florida.

All this activity took an enormous amount of drive and energy but he still found time to express his humanitarian principles by founding, in 2000, the free online journal “Arkivoc”, designed to offset journal costs and provide less well-endowed research workers, especially those in the developing world, with the opportunity to publish in the primary literature. The project was financed at the outset by a generous donation from the Katritzky family and supported by revenue generated from the annual and highly successful FloHet conferences in heterocyclic and synthetic chemistry initiated by Professor Katritzky in the year 2000.

His teaching, mentorship  and research are a tribute to his phenomenal talent and industry and his name will rightly stand in perpetuity with the creation of the Katritzky Chair at University of Florida, endowed by Alan and the Katritzky family. He will be sorely missed by the worldwide chemical community but especially by his devoted wife, Linde, who provided lifelong encouragement and support in pursuit of her husband’s goals. As one of his senior colleagues remarked just after his death, “When they made Alan Katritzky, they broke the mold”.

Alan Katritzky is survived by his wife, Linde, his daughters Margaret Katritzky, Erika Jackson and Freda Gonot Schoupinsky, his son-in-law Xavier Gonot Schoupinsky, his son Rupert Katritzky, and his grandchildren Martin Michette, Eric and Elisabeth Katritzky.

A Memorial honoring Alan Katritzky will be held in the Harn Museum auditorium on Saturday, March 22, 2014, at 10:30 a.m. In lieu of flowers contributions are welcome to the fund of Arkivoc through ARKAT USA, Department of Chemistry, P.O.B. 117200, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32611.

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