1Texas A&M University at Galveston, Dept. of Marine Sciences
Romania’s greatest chemist, Costin D. Nenitzescu (1902-1970) studied chemistry at the Eidgenossische Technische Hochschule in Zürich (1920-1922) and obtained his doctorate at the Technische Hochschule in München (1922-1924) under the supervision of Hans Fischer. After his return to Romania, he was appointed as assistant, then lecturer, and then associate professor at the Faculty of Chemistry in the Bucharest University (1925-1935). His candidacy for a professorship at that institution was turned down, but he was accepted as associate professor at the Faculty of Science in the Bucharest Polytechnic, where he became soon afterwards a full professor and continued to teach there for the next 35 years (1935-1970). His treatises of general chemistry (3 editions) and the 2-volume organic chemistry (8 editions) have been used by many generations of chemists in Romania and abroad, having been translated in Russian and Polish. Before Romania became involved in the 2nd World War, professor Nenitzescu and his coworkers discovered three new “name reactions”, to which a fourth one was added in the early 1960s. In addition to discovering new reactions and synthesizing hundreds of new organic compounds, professor Nenitzescu and his coworkers introduced novel research areas in Romanian chemistry such as the study of acids and bases from petroleum, reactions of aliphatic compounds catalysed by aluminium chloride, syntheses of new medicinal drugs, low-pressure polymerization of ethylene. He started a new research direction when he tried to synthesize cyclobutadiene. Having been elected in the Romanian Academy (corresponding member in 1945 and 1948, titular member in 1955), he presided the Chemistry Section. He founded and directed the Center of Organic Chemistry of the Romanian Academy, and he contributed to the creation of the technological research institute ICECHIM. For his achievements he was awarded Romania’s State Prize in 1949, and was elected in several foreign academies. The West-German Society of Chemistry awarded him its highest distinction, the A. W. Hofmann Gold Medal, and the American Chemical Society appointed him as Max Tishler Lecturer in 1968. He supervised the research of 35 chemists and chemical engineers who obtained their Ph. D. degrees under his guidance.
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