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Isaiah (Shi) Shavitt

by Susan J. Ainsworth
March 11, 2013 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 91, Issue 10

Isaiah (Shi) Shavitt

Isaiah (Shi) Shavitt, 87, one of the ­founding fathers of computational ­chemistry and a professor emeritus of chemistry at Ohio State University, died of cancer on Dec. 8, 2012, in Urbana, Ill.

Born in Kutno, Poland, Shavitt received a B.Sc. in chemical engineering in 1950 at Technion—Israel Institute of Technology, in Haifa, and a Ph.D. in theoretical chemistry in 1957 at Cambridge University, working with S. Francis Boys.

He then taught chemistry at Technion from 1957 until 1958 and again from 1962 until 1967. In the interim, he moved to the U.S. to serve as a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, an assistant professor at Brandeis University, and a researcher at Columbia University’s IBM Watson Laboratory.

In 1967, he joined Battelle Memorial Institute in Columbus, Ohio, serving concurrently as an adjunct professor of chemistry at Ohio State. He became a full-time faculty member at Ohio State in 1981 and retired as a professor emeritus in 1994. Shavitt was appointed as an adjunct professor in the chemistry department of the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, in 1996.

Shavitt published numerous papers and made major contributions to computational methodology in chemical theory. He coauthored the book “Many-Body Methods in Chemistry & Physics” with Rodney Bartlett.

Shavitt was an emeritus member of ACS, joining in 1973. He received the Morley Medal from the Cleveland Section. He was a fellow of both the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science and the American Physical Society and was a member of the International Academy of Quantum Molecular Science. Cambridge hosted an international conference in Shavitt’s honor, as well as in memory of Boys, in 1995.

Shavitt is survived by his wife of 55 years, Vera; daughter, Sharon; and two granddaughters, Arielle and Ellie.

Obituary notices of no more than 300 words may be sent to Susan J. Ainsworth at and should include an educational and professional history.


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