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Peter E. Siska

by Susan J. Ainsworth
September 14, 2009 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 87, Issue 37

Peter E. Siska, 65, a professor of chemistry at the University of Pittsburgh, died on Feb. 27.

Born in Evergreen Park, Ill., Siska received a B.S. in chemistry from DePaul University in Chicago and a Ph.D. in physical chemistry from Harvard University in 1970, under the direction of Dudley Herschbach.

He then worked as a postdoctoral research associate with Yuan T. Lee at the University of Chicago from 1969 to 1971, developing a universal crossed molecular beam machine to probe intermolecular forces.

Siska joined the University of Pittsburgh as an assistant professor of chemistry in 1971 and rose to full professor in 1991. He extended the crossed supersonic molecular beam technique to study the reactions of metastable electronically excited noble gas atoms with atoms and small molecules. His group contributed to the knowledge of interatomic potentials and dynamics of these systems.

He received a Chancellor's Distinguished Teaching Award in 1987 and a Tina & David Bellet College of Arts & Sciences Teaching Excellence Award in 2003. He wrote the text "University Chemistry" in 2006. He was a member of ACS, joining in 1972.

Siska is survived by his wife, Jeanne; and his children, David and Sarah.

Susan J. Ainsworth writes obituaries. Obituary notices may be sent to and should include a detailed educational and professional history.


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