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Michael F. Lappert

by Susan J. Ainsworth
July 21, 2014 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 92, Issue 29

Michael F. Lappert, 85, a professor of inorganic chemistry at England’s University of Sussex, died on March 28 after falling while playing tennis on campus.

Born in Czechoslovakia, Lappert obtained a bachelor’s degree in 1949 and a Ph.D. in 1951, both in chemistry from Northern Polytechnic Institute in London (now London Metropolitan University).

After working as a senior lecturer at the University of Manchester Institute of Science & Technology, he joined the University of Sussex as a reader in 1964. He was promoted to professor in 1969.

In his pioneering work, Lappert conducted research on organometallic compounds, which are of importance in catalysis, and the synthesis of drugs, plastics, and new materials. He published hundreds of papers and continued to work in his office until his death.

He was elected a fellow of the U.K.’s Royal Society and was president of the Dalton Division of the U.K.’s Royal Society of Chemistry from 1989 until 1991. Lappert was an emeritus member of ACS, joining in 1964.

He received numerous awards, including the Frederic Stanley Kipping Award in Silicon Chemistry from ACS in 1976.

Colleagues remember him as extraordinarily kind and generous with his time and advice, especially with younger colleagues and his students.

A polymath, he could speak knowledgeably about art, literature, theater, opera, politics, and sports.

Lappert is survived by his wife, Lorna.

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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