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Obituary: Hans J. Reich

by Linda Wang
August 28, 2020 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 98, Issue 33


Photo of Hans Reich.
Credit: Courtesy of Samuel Gellman
Hans Reich

Hans J. Reich, 76, died on May 1 in Madison, Wisconsin.

“Hans Reich’s work in organoselenium chemistry was aimed at developing methods for performing previously difficult or impossible chemical transformations of organic molecules using the special properties of this element. One of the methods he developed (the selenoxide elimination to form α-unsaturated carbonyl compounds and other alkenes) has become a standard procedure adopted by chemists throughout the world; this chemistry is covered in many undergraduate textbooks. Reich’s work with selenium compounds also contributed to understanding of the chemical aspects of the role this essential trace element plays in metabolism. Reich’s work in the synthetic area was always supported and enhanced by clarifying mechanistic studies, especially when an unexpected chemical event jeopardized the synthetic utility of the reactions being developed. When he became seriously interested in organolithium chemistry in the mid-1980s his work took a decidedly stronger mechanistic organometallic turn. Reich’s experimentation, which made heavy use of NMR spectroscopic investigations, contributed substantially to our understanding of the chemical behavior of these widely used, highly reactive and structurally complicated reagents.”—UW-Madison colleagues and friends

Most recent title: Professor emeritus of chemistry, University of Wisconsin–Madison

Education: BSc, chemistry, University of Alberta, 1964; PhD, organic chemistry, University of California, Los Angeles, 1968

Survivors: wife, Ieva

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