Issue Date: April 23, 2012
Herbert D. Kaesz
Herbert D. Kaesz, 79, a professor emeritus of chemistry and biochemistry at the University of California, Los Angeles, died of cancer on Feb. 26.
Born in Alexandria, Egypt, to Austrian parents, Kaesz received a B.A. in chemistry from New York University in 1954 and a Ph.D. in inorganic chemistry from Harvard University in 1959 under F. Gordon A. Stone.
He joined the UCLA faculty in 1960, teaching chemistry for nonmajors, general chemistry, structural inorganic chemistry, and organometallic chemistry. He retired in 2003 but remained active on campus, developing and teaching the popular seminar “Serendipity in Science.”
Kaesz focused his research on the synthesis and applications of organometallic compounds. He was among the first scientists to synthesize a technetium carbonyl complex. Later in his career, he pioneered the development of pyrolytic and photolytic methods of metal film deposition for electronic applications.
He was an emeritus member of ACS, which he joined in 1954, and served as councilor for the Southern California Section from 1976 to 2011.
Kaesz served as chairman of the International Union of Pure & Applied Chemistry Commission on the Nomenclature of Inorganic Chemistry, president of the Inorganic Syntheses Organization, and associate editor of the ACS journal Inorganic Chemistry.
He received the Tolman Medal from the ACS Southern California Section in 1980 and was elected a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 1981. Kaesz received a Senior U.S. Scientist Award from the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation in Germany in 1988 and the ACS Award for Distinguished Service in the Advancement of Inorganic Chemistry in 1998. He was elected into the inaugural group of ACS Fellows in 2009.
Known not only for his intellect, but also for his optimism, good nature, spirit, and wit, Kaesz enjoyed sharing his wealth of knowledge about music, art, and languages.
He is survived by his daughters, Judy Kaesz Murray and Susan, and three grandchildren. His wife of 51 years, Joan, died in 2010.
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