Professor Laszlo Guczi – Very Proud to say He was My Boss

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Professor Lás­zló Guczi was my Ph.D. supervisor and he was my Guru-ji (teacher). I was one of the lucky students to receive doctoral  fellowship and to learn and earn my doctoral degree under his excellent guidance. I still remember, he used to come to the lab even in his 60’s  to teach how to open mass spectrometer and how to maintain the system which he could otherwise ask someone or a service person to do the same. He used to say that we have to make an effort to learn everything and we never know how it will be useful in the future. And he was very right, after moving to pharmaceutical industry, I have extensively used mass-spec techniques to troubleshoot many projects, both in Europe and USA, in the drug development and research. He took very good care of me and treated me like his son.

The first two years, I had extremely tough time in Budapest due to severe winter conditions which I was not used to. I moved to Budapest in 1993 and when I landed at the airport on 2nd of October 1993, I was extremely surprised to see His Highness at the airport. I asked him, Sir, how come that you are here at this hour and he said I came to receive you and welcome to Budapest. He literally carried one of my hand bags, put in his car and drove the car, with such speed as if he was in his 20’s, towards the city. After about twenty minutes are so, we stopped in front of multi-floored building and he said, this is going to be your home for the next three years. That was a hostel next to the Technical University of Budapest. He took me to the reception and spoke with a person there in Hungarian language which I could not understand a word at that time. I was given the keys of the room allotted to me  and he took me to the room and he said this is your room, hope you will like it and let me know if you have any difficulties. He said, bye for now and see you soon in the department. Next day I came to know that he in fact arranged a separate independent room for me, wow.

Being strict vegetarian I had an extremely tough time those days and lost almost eight kgs of weight. He took me to the doctor in the campus and doctor has suggested me to consider at least boiled egg. And my professor said, if you don’t eat you will not survive and also said that “When You Are In Rome, Live Like A Roman”. So I confess, that I ate boiled eggs for about six months or so until I put on some weight. He used to invite us all to his home regularly and I could not forget the delicious food he used to prepare. And once he said “I love cooking and, also I like Indian kitchen and in fact have learned to prepare some Indian recipes as well.” Professor Guczi Laszlo was a very lovely and wonderful person and Scientist. I always remember the excellent review article published in Catalysis Reviews Science & Engineering and we have published this article with Professor R.A. Van Santen, another eminent scientist in Catalysis from Netherlands. This article was the result of first six months of my work in the lab.

I always remember the support of Prof. Guczi Laszlo, Dr. Zoltan Schay, Dr. A. Sarkany, (Department of Surface Chemistry and Catalysis, Institute of Isotopes of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences) and Prof. Petro. (my teacher at Technical University of Budapest) and Prof. Kubiny Miklos (Dean, Technical University of Budapest). From Dr. Zoltan Schay and Dr.  A. Sarkany, I learned a lot in the field of Catalysis.

Today only I came to know that my professor is no more and passed away on 20th December 2012. I could not digest the news. My deepest condolences to his family and relatives.

MAY HIS SOUL REST IN PEACE”

Professor Laszlo Guczi

Professor Laszlo Guczi (1932–2012)

Following is the Obituary prepared by one of my colleagues, Dr. Zoltan Schay and was published by North American Catalysis Society http://nacatsoc.org/news/in-memoriam-laszlo-guczi-1932-2012/

Pro­fes­sor Lás­zló Guczi a widely known and respected sci­en­tist passed away on 20th Decem­ber 2012 after a long bat­tle with ill­ness. He showed us what a clas­sic scholar is like: pro­fes­sional, knowl­edge­able, patient and kind.

Lás­zló Guczi was born on 23th March 1932 in Szeged, Hun­gary. As a young­ster he was a tal­ented vio­lin player and planned to become a musi­cian. Luck­ily for the catal­y­sis com­mu­nity he accepted the argu­ments of his mother and enrolled at the Uni­ver­sity of Szeged. He grad­u­ated with an MSc degree in chem­istry in 1959 and started his career in the Iso­tope Lab­o­ra­tory of the Research Insti­tute of Soil Sci­ence and Agro­chem­istry, Hun­gar­ian Acad­emy of Sci­ences. He was involved in the study of the inter­ac­tion of alkyl iodides with car­bon and red phos­pho­rous using the dif­fer­en­tial iso­tope method.

In 1962 Pro­fes­sor Tétényi invited him to work at the Insti­tute of Iso­topes, Budapest. This insti­tute was his “head­quar­ter” over 50 years. The catal­y­sis research at the insti­tute was focused on the mul­ti­plet the­ory of Balandin apply­ing iso­topes as trac­ers. In hydrogenol­y­sis of ethane on Ni, Pt and Pd metal­lic pow­ders the bond­ing of reac­tants to the sur­face was char­ac­ter­ized by C13 and C14 label­ing as well as H-D and H-T exchange. In this period he spent one year in 1964/65 as post doc­toral fel­low at the Uni­ver­sity of Sheffield with Pro­fes­sor J.V. Tyrrell. He received the degree of “Can­di­date of Sci­ence” and “Doc­tor of Sci­ence” from the Hun­gar­ian Acad­emy of Sci­ence in 1968 and 1976, respectively.

His contributions in a nutshell

  1. In 1976 he estab­lished the Research Group on Catal­y­sis.
  2. He devel­oped the “Dou­ble Label­ing Method” and applied it in the study of the mech­a­nism of the selec­tive hydro­gena­tion of acety­lene and buta­di­ene.
  3. Together with Pro­fes­sor Tétényi and Pro­fes­sor Paál he received the Hun­gar­ian State Prize in 1983 for the devel­op­ment of the prin­ci­ple of the “cat­alytic sys­tem”.
  4. The essence of this prin­ci­ple is that the cat­a­lyst and the sub­strates together form the “active sites” act­ing not as sta­tic for­ma­tions but change con­tin­u­ously dur­ing the life of the cat­a­lyst.
  5. He ini­ti­ated study of the structure-activity rela­tion­ship apply­ing highly dis­persed sup­ported metal cat­a­lysts. At the begin­ning, Fe, Ru and FeRu bimetal­lic car­bonyl clus­ters as cat­a­lyst pre­cur­sors were stud­ied in the Fisher-Tropsch reac­tion.
  6. He intro­duced Möss­bauer spec­troscopy for in situ char­ac­ter­i­za­tion of the cat­a­lysts. Based on this research he was invited as ple­nary speaker to the 9th ICC in 1988 to give a talk about clus­ter catal­y­sis.
  7. Later on he extended the research to inter­fa­cial chem­istry in model cat­a­lysts to define the sur­face species at mol­e­c­u­lar level and their influ­ence on the activ­ity and selec­tiv­ity, elec­tron prop­er­ties of nanopar­ti­cles, gen­e­sis of bimetal­lic par­ti­cles geo­met­ri­cally con­fined in zeo­lite cage, role of bimetal­lic cat­a­lysts in deNOx, in CO hydrogenation/oxidation and methane acti­va­tion to form hydro­car­bons.
  8. In 1993, he was awarded by Republic’s Order Offi­cer Cross. In the last two decades he turned to the catal­y­sis by gold.
  9. He was espe­cially devoted to study of the inter­ac­tion of gold with pro­mot­ing oxides apply­ing Nano-dispersed sys­tems pre­pared by col­loidal meth­ods and model sys­tems pre­pared by phys­i­cal meth­ods.
  10. For all this research he was eager to equip his lab­o­ra­tory with sophis­ti­cated and up-to-date tech­niques such as XPS, FT-IR, STM and SFG (Sum Fre­quency Gen­er­a­tion).
  11. He undoubt­edly played a pio­neer­ing role in estab­lish­ing these method­olo­gies in the Hun­gar­ian sci­en­tific culture.
  12. He was an extra­or­di­nary and a highly tal­ented per­son, who was excel­lent in build­ing con­tacts and orga­niz­ing sci­en­tific co-operations world­wide. Lás­zló was like an ambas­sador for the Hun­gar­ian catal­y­sis com­mu­nity.
  13. He received recog­ni­tion all over the world, which was evi­denced by the spe­cial issues pub­lished in Applied Catal­y­sis A and Top­ics in Catal­y­sis on the occa­sions of his 70th and 80th birth­day, respectively.
  14. He pub­lished over 400 research papers, 12 books and chap­ters, pre­sented about 430 lec­tures (out of these 34 ple­nary or invited ones). He super­vised 22 PhD stu­dents, some of them from abroad. All of László’s stu­dents got post doc­toral posi­tion at highly respected uni­ver­si­ties by his help. He was a pro­fes­sor at the Uni­ver­sity of Szeged and the Budapest Uni­ver­sity of Tech­nol­ogy and Eco­nom­ics.
  15. He served as regional edi­tor for Applied Catal­y­sis in 1980–2006.
  16. He was also on the advi­sory board of Catal­y­sis Today and Reac­tion Kinet­ics and Catal­y­sis Let­ters.
  17. He played major role in orga­niz­ing the 10th ICC in Budapest in 1992 and the 8th Inter­na­tional Sym­po­sium on Rela­tion between Homo­ge­neous and Het­ero­ge­neous Catal­y­sis at Lake Bal­a­ton in 1995.
  18. He was a vis­it­ing pro­fes­sor at:
    • Worces­ter Poly­tech­nic Insti­tute, USA;
    • The Rijks Uni­ver­sity, Lei­den;
    • Uni­ver­sity of Pitts­burgh, USA;
    • Lawrence Berke­ley Lab­o­ra­tory, USA;
    • P&M Curie Uni­ver­sity, France;
    • Schuit Insti­tute of Catal­y­sis, The Nether­lands.

In pri­vate life Lás­zló was a lov­ing hus­band, father and grand­fa­ther. He was an excel­lent cook who enjoyed enter­tain­ing his friends and co-workers in his house at Érd, in the sub­urb of Budapest. Dur­ing his life, clas­si­cal music remained his passion.

We all admired his devo­tion to the sci­ence, his unlim­ited energy, and enjoyed his sense of humor and charm. We will greatly miss him.

 *****

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