Prof. Josef Michl, an expert in organic and physical chemistry, died

It is with deep sorrow that we have to announce that our former colleague and well-known expert in organic and physical chemistry, Professor Josef Michl, died suddenly in Prague on 13 May.

His professional career began when he joined our Institute as a graduate student. After receiving his PhD, he spent two years as a postdoctoral fellow at the Universities of Houston and Austin, Texas. In 1967 he rejoined Rudolf Zahradník’s group at our Institute.  With the experience he had gained in the synthesis of new chemical compounds with unusual structures, spectroscopy and quantum chemistry, he was ready to start his own research. However, his ambitious project was delayed due to limited availability to secure the components needed to build the spectroscopic equipment and was eventually ended by the Russian occupation of the country in August 1968.  

At the time of the Russian attack, Josef Michl attended a quantum chemistry school in Norway, where he decided not to return home. He was offered an assistant professorship at the University of Aarhus in Denmark. He always remembered his one-year stay there fondly and with gratitude. It was not until he emigrated to the USA that new opportunities opened up for him to use his skills and inventiveness. After increasing scientific success at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City, he was appointed head of the chemistry department.  Prestigious awards and honours soon followed, of note at least from the National Academy of Sciences and the International Academy of Quantum Molecular Science. Throughout his stay in the USA, especially at his new positions at the University of Texas at Austin (1986-1991) and the University of Colorado at Boulder (1991-2024), he maintained contacts with the community of Czech chemists, hosting them in his group and collaborating with them during his frequent visits to the Czech Republic.

We remember him not only as a mentor and prominent scientist, but also as a good companion at social events and outdoor activities.  

Petr Čárský