International Society of Electrochemistry

 

facebook linkedIn

 

Obituary


Fred C. Anson




Fred C. Anson passed away on May 22, 2024 at the age of 91. Fred was the Elizabeth W. Gilloon Professor of Chemistry, Emeritus, at Caltech, where he served on the faculty for 43 years. Anson received his bachelor’s degree in chemistry at Caltech in 1954. He went on to earn a doctoral degree in chemistry from Harvard in 1957, overlapping in Prof. J. J. Lingane’s research group with another person destined to have a major impact on electrochemistry, Al Bard. Fred was hired as an instructor at Caltech that same year by Linus Pauling. He was appointed an assistant professor in 1958 and rose rapidly through the academic ranks, becoming an associate professor in 1962 and a full professor in 1968.

Fred’s early research focused on understanding the electrochemical behavior of reactants attached at electrode surfaces. In the mid 1960’s he developed a method of using chronocoulometry to study electrode-attached reactants, presenting data in a format that would later become known as an Anson plot. Through the 1970’s, 1980’s, and 1990’s he studied a wide variety of surface-attached systems and was a pioneer in the use of thin polymer films for confining reactants at electrode surfaces. He also contributed significantly to the understanding of electrocatalytic oxygen reduction. Fred’s insightful work in these areas provided the seminal underpinnings of much of the research that occupied the attention of the electrochemistry community throughout and after his career.

Among Fred’s many honors, he was elected to the National Academy of Sciences (1988) and a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (2003). Fred was the first recipient of the David Grahame Award of the Electrochemical Society. He also received the C. N. Reilley Award in electroanalytical chemistry (1986), the American Chemical Society Award in Analytical Chemistry (1989), and an Alexander von Humboldt Award (1984).

Fred was among the small group of people who started the Western Electrochemical and Technical Society, which had informal meetings to discuss electrochemistry on the beach in San Clemente. This group eventually morphed into the Gordon Research Conference on Electrochemistry and was responsible for its west coast location. Because of the proximity of Caltech to the west coast Gordon Research Conference site in Santa Barbara (and then later, Ventura), Fred’s research group meetings in early January often had as many GRC-bound visitors as students and postdocs. This made for some spirited and memorable discussions!

Fred was known as a wonderful scientific mentor who employed just the right mix of guiding people when they needed it and leaving them to work on their own when they didn’t. Throughout his career, Fred’s research group had a distinctly international flavor. Many people who spent time in his group went on to distinguished careers across the world. For all of us, countries represented during our respective stays in the group included Japan, Korea, Germany, Italy, France, Poland, Switzerland, Spain, Hong Kong, New Zealand, China and others. The collaborative atmosphere Fred created in the research group led to many lasting friendships across many borders. Fred also had several long lasting professional collaborations, including one that fostered a strong friendship between him and Jean-Michel Saveant, another of the great electrochemists of the era. Fred was known for his insightful and tenacious approach to science, his keen wit, and his unwavering support for his students and postdocs. He managed his group with a deft touch and an easy smile. He was, in the words of one who knew him well, a “prince of a fellow”. And he certainly leaves a legacy worth remembering.





Allen J. Bard
1933 - 2024


Image courtesy of Prof. Dong-ping Zhan, Xiamen University, China

Professor Allen J. Bard passed away Feb 11, 2024 at the age of 90.

Dr. Bard was a faculty member nearly 65 years at the University of Texas at Austin, following his PhD at Harvard University. Although he did not seek out public recognition, he was an internationally decorated scientist and a prominent Editor.

He co-wrote the seminal book: Fundamentals of Electrochemical Methods, which will continue to train and guide the generation of electrochemists for the foreseeable future. He once said: “It’s very hard in science to make such an important contribution that you become a household name and your ideas go into textbooks.” I do not think that he sought it or wanted it but ultimately, Bard is a household name in electrochemistry and everyone in our field would agree that it is indeed very rare and unique.

Dr. Bard (I could never convince myself to call him Al) had great intuition and imagination publishing more than 1,000 academic papers and 30 patents. His works showcases that from fundamental science we build “bricks” of knowledge and tools serving our communities such as scanning electrochemical microscopes and water based electrochemiluminescence sensing platforms. He truly loved science and was one of the most open-minded and curious scientists that I have known. When I joined his laboratory, he was 65 and recovering from a heart condition. Colleagues would ask him if he was thinking of retirement and his answer was always: I’ll do it as long as I can.

In 2014, when a reporter asked him what professional accomplishment, he was most proud of, he answered “I think I’m most proud of the people I turned out. I don’t know if you consider that a professional accomplishment.” Dr. Bard was so much more than a list of awards and publications. He leaves behind the Bard family, Cindy Zoski, his long-time friend, and a significant scientific family of more than 90 PhD students, 200 postdoctoral fellows, several master’s students and research scientists. He also leaves behind numerous colleagues and collaborators since he was always happy to work in a team to push the science forward. We have lost one of the best electrochemist and mentor that I know.


Janine Mauzeroll

Professor of Chemistry
McGill University, Montreal, Canada

 

There will be a special symposium in memory of Prof. Allen J. Bard during the Annual Meeting 2024 in Montreal

 





John B. Goodenough

1922 - 2023

Credit of The University of Texas at Austin

 

When you had been visiting a major conference on energy research in the last half century you had a good chance to notice a resounding, irresistible, braying laughter of a tall scientist named John Goodenough. From June 25 of this year on this sound will never be heard again. John passed away in the biblical age of 100 years. He lived a fulfilled scientific life being a master example of how silly it is to force creative and active people to retire, since most of his groundbreaking discoveries in the field of energy research were made in the last 40 years. Even though more than a generation lied between us, we became scientific friends, and had – beyond personal chats - reams of scientific discussions and debates.

John Goodenough was born in Jena (Germany), moved already as an infant with his family to the US. Here he received a profound education in mathematics, physics and chemistry. It was this interdisciplinary endowment that allowed him to achieve pioneering accomplishments in the fields of electrochemistry and materials science. His academic career started at MIT (MA) where he essentially experienced his “electronic phase”, and was continued as an “ionic phase” in Oxford (UK) where he became Professor for Inorganic Chemistry. The last move was then back to US, more precisely to Austin (Texas). Two reasons had been decisive for this return: first of all, the possibility to continue to work without age restriction; and second the fact that he – as a chemical physicist - did never feel fully accepted by the classic inorganic solid state community. Ironically, the work that he accomplished in Oxford which later brought him the Nobel prize, was exactly in the classic domain of solid state chemistry.

The major achievement in this context was the exploration of Lithium Cobaltate and its aptitude to store Lithium massively and quickly. Together with the works of Stan Whittingham, the pioneer of intercalation electrodes, and of Akira Yoshino who mastered the counter electrode, this led to the so-called “Li-ion battery” which revolutionized our daily life by enabling portable electronics as well as electromobility.
Beyond this achievement one should not forget his basic contributions to materials with high sodium conductivity, high oxygen conductivity, proton conductivity as well as to photoelectrochemistry. While these aspects only refer to his “ionic phase”, his “electronic phase” was equally productive and culminated in the “Goodenough-Kanamori rules” which now belong to textbook knowledge in modern magnetism.

I well remember having once talked to John working in the lobby of a conference hotel and having asked him what he is so busy with at the moment: The answer “Something that really interests me - electron correlation”(!) testifies that a great scientific mind cannot be localized at a specific topic.

A personal note: In a lecture that I gave in Austin on the occasion of John’s 90th birthday, I cited and rephrased a few lines from Bob Dylan’s “Forever Young” (“May you stay forever young, and may your papers be always read – well enough”), and  mentioned that the original song was often sung by Pete Seeger who received the honor of being admitted to the Hall of Fame only in his Nineties. A few years later I had the pleasure to deliver another birthday talk for John – online due to Corona – and could mention that both had meanwhile received the Nobel prize: Bob Dylan and John Goodenough.

Joachim Maier

Max Planck Institute for Solid State Research, Stuttgart,