In Memoriam Detlef Schröder

29 August 2012

On 22 August 2012, we were struck by the shocking and devastating news that Detlef Schröder had died suddenly at the height of his creative powers as a consequence of a pulmonary embolism. This happened only one day after we could celebrate with him two pieces of pleasing and exhilarating news. One of them, the announcement that Detlef Schröder had become the first laureate of the Rudolf Lukeš Prize, awarded by the Czech Chemical Society for excellent results of high international importance in the field of organic, bioorganic and medicinal chemistry. The second news being the notification that the team led by Detlef Schröder had published a very important article in the prestigious journal Angewandte Chemie.

Even after several days, we have not been able to absorb and internally cope with the fact that we can no longer meet with this wonderful and always good-humored fellow, for all he was a colleague and mentor, in addition, a scientific ‘brother’ a man whose zeal for science, foresight, multitude of ideas, inspirations and superb knowledge of the entire field of chemistry gave us joy and courage within our own research. It can hardly be estimated how many hundreds of hours each of us spent discussing with him problems encompassing the entire spectrum of chemical sciences, ranging from diatomic molecules in the gas phase through catalysis, organometallic chemistry, to the chemistry of biological systems. This broad intellectual scope of his, transcending his own field of physical organic chemistry, has made him a scientific figure of international renown whose importance reaches far beyond the borders of the Czech Republic.

Dr. habil. Detlef Schröder (June 24, 1963 in Wilster - August 22, 2012 in Prague)

The first seventeen years of Detlef’s career were tied to the Technische Universität Berlin, where he worked as the leading creative figure in the group of Prof. Helmut Schwarz and where he was also awarded a degree of associate professor in 2007. In the same year, he began to work at the Institute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry of the AS CR as a scientific team leader. In 2011, he was granted the “Distinguished Chair” position, hence the highest possible position at the IOCB, intended for the most significant scientific figures. Apart from hundreds of articles in top-ranking chemistry journals, cited more than ten thousand times, the high quality of Detlef’s work is evidenced also by the prestigious ERC Advanced Grant given to him in 2009, a membership in many international associations, dozens of invited lectures, the “Supreme Reviewer” award in two of the most prestigious chemistry journals, the position of the editor-in-chief of the International Journal of Mass Spectrometry, and many others. At the same time, Detlef was among the few stars of the chemical sky that volunteered service to the greater scientific community. In this connection, it is necessary to mention his active and highly appreciated work at the Czech Science Foundation.

The name of Detlef’s ERC Advanced Grant directly referred to building bridges between chemical domains, mainly between chemistry in the gas and condensed phases. We are convinced that already today this project may be evaluated as successfully completed because Detlef has managed to build many bridges between the individual directions of the research implemented not only at the IOCB but also at other academic institutions in the Czech Republic as well as abroad. Unwittingly, he thus also built bridges between our scientific lives, for which we are grateful and thank him.

Through the gravitation of his mind, Detlef inspired those of us around him to attempt emulation of him. Coincidentally, emptiness and gravity are evoked within us by the sudden appearance of a black hole in the space around us. Detlef, we will all miss you greatly!

Luboš Rulíšek and Pavel Jungwirth

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