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Motto: “What is impossible to achieve in a single work, becomes possible throughout a lifetime.” – Lucian Blaga Academician Ionel Haiduc belongs to a vast scientific field, defined by the study of the substances composition and their changes under certain circumstances; he is among those outstanding personalities who, constantly and profoundly keep moving on the universal orbit of chemistry. His fusion with this discipline was expressed by a more than four decades career dedicated to scientific interests. Academician Ionel Haiduc with his generous intellectual background has thoroughly studied the chemical compounds behavior, especially the chemical reactions, distinguishing with pertinence the changes in the configuration of atoms, molecules and supramolecular structures. His intuition and competence as a reputed specialist enabled him to notice the conditions of chemical changes both in the laboratory and the universe, where chemical processes keep the balance between the life’s elixir organic and inorganic and the metamorphosis of the environment. His valid scientific self has its roots in the years he was a student at “BabesBolyai University – Chemistry Department” where he proved to be a profound student and scholar under the guidance of some distinguished mentors. In 1959 he graduated and got a degree in chemistry, together with solid knowledge and a promising perspective. Inorganic chemistry was the starting point of his career; the idea of integrating the inorganic chemistry cycles into a distinct and coherent system was expressed in a study published in 1960, with 1,000 bibliographical references. The title of the study was “Introduction to the chemistry of inorganic cycles” and it became in 1970, a two volume monography, published in London. Another reference work was “The Chemistry of Inorganic Homo- and Heterocycles”, in collaboration with D.B.Sowerby, published in two volumes by the Academic Press, London, New York, in 1987. His profound knowledge and his talent to express simply and elegantly the most arid issues of the descriptive and functional chemical system, dominated his academic career: he was first head of the laboratory (1959), assistant lecturer (1962), lecturer (1964), assistant professor (1969) and since 1973 to the present, professor doctor at the Chemistry Department of Babes-Bolyai University Cluj. He was appointed “science candidate” as a result of the Doctor’s degree he was awarded in 1964 (at the age of 27) by the Institute of Fine Chemical Technology “M.V. Lomonosov” in Moscow; his doctoral dissertation was about the chemistry of inorganic and silico-organic polymers, under the guidance of academician K.A.Andrianov. Later on he attended post-doctoral studies on the silico-organic and organometallic chemistry (1966-1968) at Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa, U.S.A. with professor Henry Gilman and the University of Georgia, Athens, Georgia, U.S.A with professor R.B.King. Ionel Haiduc also proved his competence in other directions such as: coordinative and organometallic chemistry, supramolecular and organometallic chemistry of inorganic cycles, biological active compounds of metals, nomenclature and systematisation in inorganic chemistry, science management and policy. The isometric spectrum of the coordinative chemistry offered him the opportunity to study the structure of the coordinative mono and polinuclear metal compounds, the reciprocal influence of ligands and the stereochemistry of coordinative compounds.
Having always new ideas and concerns, academician Ionel Haiduc overpassed the stagnation in one of the classic, traditional domains of chemistry, looking for new directions, as a result of interdisciplinary sciences, the interference between organic and inorganic chemistry. His research work also focused on the third chemistry, the organometallic chemistry, where he contributed by using some phosphorous and arsenic combinations, as well as the possible applications of the organometallic compounds synthesized and tested in Cluj, in cancer chemotherapy. Among his other studies in the field of organometallic chemistry we should also mention: “Chemistry of organometallic compounds” (1974), “Basic Organometallic Chemistry” / with J.J.Zuckerman, Walter de Gruyter, Berlin and New York (1985), translated into Greek in 1990, Organometallics in Cancer Chemotherapy – with C. Silvestru, 2 vol., CRC Press, Boca Ratton, USA (1990, 1991). Another field of the scientific investigation is represented by supramolecular chemistry; thus, the volume “Supramolecular Organometallic Chemistry” (with F.T.Edelmann) published in Wiley VCH, Weinheim, 1990 represents a program for developing the organometallic chemistry in accordance with the principles of its creator, Jean-Marie Lehn, a Nobel Prize winner. At the same time, academician Ionel Haiduc is the founder of the supramolecular organometallic chemistry school, in Cluj-Napoca. In accordance with the status of the contemporary scientist, Ionel Haiduc is also deeply involved in the social problems, often taking attitude when the environment or the “infrastructure” of the human habitat are endangered. Over 340 studies and articles (out of which 260 in ISI Magazines), as well as several chapters of books, prove the high quality information, the exigency of profound and solid theoretical and practical arguments. His whole activity was acknowledged throughout the time by international titles, awards, diplomas, etc: Fullbright Scholarship (USA, 1966), „G. Spacu” prize on the Romanian Academy (1974), Member of honor of the Romanian Academy (1990), Full member of the Romanian Academy (1991), Humboldt Research Scholarship (Magdeburg, University, Germany, 1997), „Pro Colaboratione” Medal, The Magyar Academy of Science, Debrecen Department (1999), Diploma of Honour of the Academy of Science of the Republic of Moldavia (1999), Citizen of Honour of Cluj-Napoca (1999), the Order “Steaua Romaniei” in rank of High Officer, awarded by the President of Romania (2000), Member of Honour of Academia Europea, London (2002), Doctor Honoris Causa, the Politechnical University „Gh. Asachi”, Iaşi (2003) and the Politechnical of University from Timişoara (2004). Academician Ionel Haiduc also had the quality of visiting professor abroad: NSF Visiting Scientist, Chemistry Department, University of Georgia, Athens, Georgia, USA (1992), European Commission Visiting Scientist University of Santiago de Compostela, Santiago de Compostela, Spain (1993 and 1998), Visiting Professor, Instituto de Quimica, Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico (1993-1994), Visiting Professor, Instituto de Quimica, Universidade Federal de Sao Carlos, Brazil (1993 and 2004), Consultant, Department of Chemistry, University of Texas at El Paso, Texas, USA (1997), Gauss Visiting Professorship Anorganisch Chemisches Institut, Göttingen Universität, Germany (1998-1999 and 2002), Visiting Professor, Department of Chemistry, University of Texas at El Paso, Texas, USA (20002001 and 2004), Humboldt Visiting Professor. As a first rank contemporary personality of Cluj, academician Ionel Haiduc was elected on April 5, 2006, president of the Romanian Academy.
His high level scientific activity was also proved by the quality of member in several international prestige committees: from 1993 up to the present - International Council of Main Group Chemistry, between 1991-1993, in Alliance of University for Democracy (Board of Directors), and in 2004 – European Science Foundation, Evaluation Panel of the COST Program in Physics, Chemistry, Materials Science and member of the editorial staff of some important reviews and magazines: “Synthesis and Reactivity in Inorganic and Metal-organic Chemistry” (New York), „Main-Group Metal Chemistry” (London-Tel Aviv), „Metal-Based Drugs” (London), „Science and Engineering Ethics” (Guildford, UK), „Revue Roumaine de Chimie” (Bucharest), „Revista de chimie” (Bucharest), „Progress in Catalysis” (Bucharest), „Studia Universitatis „Babeş-Bolyai” Chemia”. In 2006,the president of the Romanian Academy Ionel Haiduc was awarded by the Romanian Presidency the National Order „Steaua României” in rank of Great Cross. The projects of the scientist became true achievements in his entire work and the results of his research; Ionel Haiduc approached the important combinatory issues in present chemistry and science. „There is a certain rhythmicity and periodicity in everyone’s life. The change between some periods is related to the fact, that the human being does not cover the plenitude and does not find his enthusiasm all the time. Nobody can fully understand the mystery and unicity of the human being. The human being is more mysterious than the universe; in fact, it is the universe. The man is a microcosm including everything in himself.” - Nicolai Berdiaev „Academician Ionel Haiduc, I would suggest to start our dialogue with the Romanian academic movement at present, and maybe you can give us some details about the Cluj branch of the Academy, whose president you are.” Ionel Haiduc: “The Romanian Academy tries to regain its former prestige. For 1015 years before 1989, the Academy was almost left to natural process of disintegration, but after 1990 it came to life again. On January 1st, 1990, there were only 70 members, most of them over 70 years. On the other hand, there was no research institution, while some publications of the Academy were below the standards. At present, the research activity was resumed, some research institutes are back again under the authority of the Academy. At the same time, the Academy undergoes a process of evaluation of its activity, so as to determine which are the excellence centres, where are the points that need financial support by grants that is through a competitive means. Competition becomes more and more important, implying the identification and support of real values. Regarding the institutes from Cluj, these are very different: for instance, the Linguistic Institute and the Institute for history are the biggest ones, the others are smaller and sometimes more heterogeneous; but their concerns and research activity belong to the general activity of the Academy.” “We are now trying to go into some biographical details; so, the first question would be: who were your mentors, where and how did you get your training as a chemistry specialist?” Ionel Haiduc: “My training was a gradual one, starting from school, high school, where among my teachers I must mention Mrs. Cecilia Marian, my chemistry teacher who allowed me to work in the school laboratory during my spare time. It was a good
laboratory at “Emil Racoviţă” high school, and that is how I became aquainted with laboratory work before I became a student in chemistry. I can’t forget my primary school teacher Mrs. Sopa, (today 85) whom we, her former pupils are still visiting now and then. During my student years I also had some remarkable professors, the most outstanding was Candin Liteanu, who not only encouraged me, but also gave me a research subject, which later on became, I should say, the obsession of my life and career. It is about the inorganic polymers, a quite new issue at the time. Starting from this, I came to some very interesting things in my career. My second mentor is professor Ion Cădariu from the physical chemistry department, who taught me scientific rigour and research approach. I always kept him in the highest esteem; he kept his dignity as a professor and a man. The strange part is that both my most admired professors had different specialties from mine. Mr. Liteanu was professor of analytic chemistry; professor Cădariu of physical chemistry. In inorganic chemistry, the field of my later career, my mentor was professor Raluca Ripan, a highly esteemed scientific personality of that time, member of the Academy, president of Cluj-Napoca department of the Romanian Academy. Since my student years I used to read a lot especially in my line of profession, owing to professor Liteanu. There was no place abroad where I went without visiting a university library. In this respect, I may say that its libraries represent one of the civilization criteria of a country. In some countries, the libraries are in disorder, the periodicals are not kept in their proper order. In Anglo-Saxon countries, the libraries are in perfect order, the collections are complete, and the service is of good quality. Each library has its own charm and is interesting to appreciate a country after its libraries. Throughout my entire career I kept learning all the time and consequently I changed my field of interest for at least three times: first, it was the chemistry of inorganic cycles, then the organometallic chemistry and then the supramolecular chemistry. These change were a logical transition from one to the other, at the same time with the changes and trends in chemistry.” “After this period of training, there followed the university career; would you please, give us some details on your professional development?” Ionel Haiduc: “I graduated the Chemistry Department of the University in Cluj, with the speciality inorganic chemistry; afterwards I had the opportunity to work in some famous laboratories abroad such as: the laboratory of academician Andrianov in Moscow, which was well known in the U.S.A. even from the 60’ies. His research studies and books (some of them connected with industry, satellites, military applications, etc.) were translated into English. I also had the opportunity to work with Professor Henry Gilman, one of the founders of organometallic chemistry in the U.S.A., with Professor Bruce King also a well known specialist in a new branch of organometallic chemistry. I want to emphasize the fact, that every time when I returned after my staying abroad, I did not continue with what I had been working there, but I approached new research project according to the possibilities at home and to my own ideas and concerns. It would be more comfortable to address myself to some colleagues, so as to get into professional details, but still I must mention that organometallic chemistry is considered “the third chemistry”, a link between organic and inorganic chemistry. Thus, I found out that is very challenging to look for new directions where the personal contribution is more important and remarkable than in a classical field of research. This implies to keep up with latest information and knowledge.”
“These investigations were followed by studies and papers; would you like to mention some of them?” Ionel Haiduc: “I’d like to start with the books, as I mentioned before I am very found of books and libraries. My first book was “Introduction to the chemistry of inorganic cycles” (the cover of the book is not to my taste, but the publisher didn’t ask for my opinion) in 1960, a year after graduating the university; it was in fact my graduation diploma, with over 1,000 bibliographical references. That means I had read as a student, during 5 years, more than 1,000 scientific works. It is known that there are several cyclic combinations in the carbon structure (e.g. benzene) and I was very surprised, when I discovered during my first year as a student, that there were inorganic cycles, without carbon. It seemed to me something very unusual; so, I started reading everything about this subject and the result was the book published in Romanian, by the Academy Publishing House. The editors knew nothing about me and they were surprised to see a 22 years young student as being the author of a scientific book. I still remember this moment with amusement… I sent the book abroad, to some professors who worked on this issue, but on different ideas, such as the chemistry of phosphorous, silicon, borine; few of them thought of integrating the chemistry of inorganic cycles into a distinct, coherent system. This was my attempt in the book. Later on, Professor M.Becke from the University of Heidelberg said: “this book by I.Haiduc, though published in Romanian, had some influence in the West”. The book was translated into Polish, then into English and was published in London under the title “The Chemistry of Inorganic Ring Systems”, in 1970. By that time, the Romanian version of the book had 2 volumes and 1,200 pages. The English version became known throughout the world, I even found it in Brazil. Owing to this book I became a member of the scientific committee of the first international symposium on the chemistry of inorganic cycle, which took place starting with 1975. Later on, the book had to be supplemented: in 1987 together with my friend and colleague, Dr.Bryan Sowerby from Nottingham, England, I edited two additional volumes. Meanwhile, I was also interested in a new branch of chemistry, the organometallic chemistry. I started teaching this subject at the University in Cluj and I wrote a book on it, in 1974, which was awarded the Academy Prize and was translated into English for the use of the American and German universities. The book was published in Berlin, and was then translated into Greek. The cover is the same with that of the English edition; only the title and the text are in Greek. I have a strange feeling, when looking through the pages of the book I understand only the formulas. The American Publishing House CRC Press, Florida has recently asked me to write in collaboration, a new book on the use of the organometallic compounds in cancer chemotherapy. We have studied and synthesized some compounds and we also tested them, here in Cluj; they do not have a direct anti-tumour action, but are active and they might be a future perspective in this direction. Besides the above-mentioned books, together with a group of students and candidates for the doctor’s degree, we have published a number of original studies in specialized magazines in the country and abroad. We also contributed to certain chapters of organometallic chemistry using phosphorous and arsenic combinations linked with organometallic groups. For some years, owing to Jean-Marie Lehn, 1987 Nobel Prize winner, there is a new science, supramolecular chemistry, the science of materials. This is the chemistry of
some structures whose molecules are organized in a certain way, as “bricks” for some complex chemical architecture. In classic chemistry, the role of “bricks” is played by atoms linked through chemical links; in supramolecular chemistry the molecules are used instead, linked through weaker, but more important forces, called intermolecular interactions. As we became aquainted with the new chemistry, we realized that some of the combinations synthesized and studied by us, proved to contain structural elements of supramolecular organization. We were the first to connect organometallic chemistry with supramolecular chemistry; we must also mention the collaboration of some colleagues from abroad, which helped us to determine the molecular and crystalline structures by Xray diffraction. This method is at the present, a usual one; our collaboration with some colleagues from abroad is still working and whenever we had such opportunities we also offered our help (some new substances we synthesized in our lab, our research results) and consequently, we published together the results of our works in England, Germany and U.S.A.” “As I know, you yourself were a visiting professor at different western universities. Maybe you would like to mention some of them.” “Having published in many prestigious magazines from abroad I became known to the specialists in the field and so, I was invited, with an assistant of mine, in Mexico at Universidad Nacional Antonoma de Mexico, where a group of candidates to the doctor’s degree wanted to work in the field of organometallic phosphorous and arsenic compounds. We worked within a program of the National Research Council from Mexico, organized in so-called “excellence patrimonial department”, for foreign researchers. Though a big and relatively reach country, Mexico has adopted only the last 10 years a scientific research program. During one year and a half while I worked there, we published with our Mexican colleagues about 15 studies. After we left the country they kept on working on the projects and recently dr. Cea-Olivares (one of our coworkers), in a conference in the USA said: “We have had foreign specialists, some colleagues from Romania, who significantly contributed to the development and high standards of our laboratory.” “I was also invited to Brasil, for two weeks; in such short period of time I had daily lectures on supramolecular organometallic compounds.” “Now, coming back home, your university activity is also well known, you were the first rector after 1989.” “Yes, in January 1990 I had the honour to be elected by the University Senate as the first post-revolution rector. It was the start of a new way, to the autonomy and reform of the university, and up to 1993 when I left for Mexico, I did my best so that the university should follow the necessary steps under the circumstances. However, I gladly gave up this honourable title, in favour of the modest activity as a chemist.” “At present, on your working table there are probably some new projects…” “On my table there are lots of papers and library notes, excerpts, photocopies, articles, waiting to be processed. My greatest project now, is to write a book, this time a treaty on inorganic chemistry, in Romanian; I have it in my mind, but not yet on paper.” “So, you are working on it.” “I still gather documents and materials I think of the way it will look like, but everything has to be written.” “From the resources you have, is there anything left for other activities?” “There was a time when I had a passion for philately. It may seem amusing, but I used to collect stamps with chemistry subjects. There is an entire history of chemistry and
illustrious chemists in these stamps and I think my lectures on this issue were the most successful ones. I consider it a duty from time to time, for the man of science, to speak simple and attractive about science.” “Finally, what question would you address to academician Ionel Haiduc?” “Surprising question! I would ask him if he were to start again, would he do the same thing or not?” “How would you answer?” “I think I would do the same thing, maybe better, more efficient.” “In the hope we will meet again and talk sometime in future about the aspects of your professional, scientific activity and why not about your book, we thank you.” Eight years later…. “Since our last meeting eight years ago, the intellectual activity of academician Ionel Haiduc has been very prolific. What benefits did you bring to chemistry and especially in the field of supramolecular organometallic chemistry?” “There’s been eight years, full of events, but that promised book has not yet been written… Meanwhile, I wrote another, more urgent one, more important. I told you eight years ago, that there are two directions I was concerned about in chemistry: organometallic chemistry and the new supramolecular chemistry. There were two distinct domains; however, when studying more carefully the too fields, I found out they have some common points: the organometallic compounds which build up supramolecular structures. The result was a new book “Chimia organometalică supramoleculară” (published in English, “Supramolecular Organometallic Chemistry”). I wrote the book in Germany, with professor Frank Edelmann, in Magdeburg during my Humboldt study; the book was published in 2000, by Wilog – VCH, with a “Foreword” signed by Jean-Marie Lehn, a Nobel Prize Winner, who created the supramolecular chemistry. I quote: “The authors have to be congratulated for the service they do to the community of chemistry, because they take the flame of supramolecular chemistry to a new field, thus bringing on the stage the supramolecular organometallic chemistry. A review of the book, published by a magazine of the American Society of Chemistry stated: “The supramolecular organometallic chemistry did not exist as a distinct branch until the book written by Haiduc and Edelmann was published”. After reading this, a friend of mine, told me: “This was worth living for.” And I think he is right.” “You spread the seed of chemistry throughout the world. Could you estimate the consequences and the results?” “I had lectures or conferences on supramolecular chemistry in Brazil, the U.S.A. (El Paso, Texas), Germany (Gottingen), Spain, Malaysia, Singapore, Argentina. Interesting places, where the new chemistry is flourishing.” “I wish this dialogue had as final point a moment of self reflection of academician Ionel Haiduc, at your inner life allows at…” “It might be a sign of old age, the fact that I was overwhelmed by honours during the last few years: member of Academia Europea, member of honour of the Academy of Science of the Republic of Moldavia, Doctor Honoris Causa of the Technical University “Gheorghe Assachi” of Iasi and of the Chemistry Society from Romania. All these are highly honourable titles, but they make me think about a lot…”
After being elected President of the Romanian Academy, April 2006. “Within the background of our previous interactions and communication with a view to illustrate the intellectual elite from Cluj in the volume “Contemporary personalities from Cluj” published with the support of the Romanian Academy, I have now the pleasure to meet you again, as President of the Romanian Academy. How did it go, how did you accept the vote that made you the winner?” “I accepted to apply for this title at the suggestion of many members of the Academy, short time before the elections. In the second tour there were only two candidates (out of 4) and the result is known. Anyway it is encouraging that I have the large support of the members of the Romanian Academy.” “In the history of the Romanian Academy how many Presidents were from Cluj?” “George Bariţ was founder of the Academy and president in 1853; then Emil Racoviţă (1926 – 1929) and Alexandru Lapedatu (1935 – 1938) were also presidents.” “Mr. President, how would you define the “trophic chain” of the Romanian academism, and what is the configuration of the Romanian Academy in the first years of the 3rd millennium?” “In April, this year, the Romanian Academy celebrated 140year. It was born in 1866, under the name of The Romanian Literary Society; in 1867 it became the Romanian Academic Society. In 1879 this was transformed, by royal decree, into “a national institute named Romanian Academy”, the aim of this “institute” was “to promote the national language and history, literature, science and arts”. Today, the Romanian Academy has 14 scientific departments.” “What do you consider could be done that the Romanian Academy should get more involved and what is the role of such an institution in a society so troubled by a too long transition?” “The Academy may have a consulting role for the state’s institutions, through its experts, when is asked for, or when needed, in questions of national importance. This has already been done by ESEN programs (evaluation of the national economy), or by the programs on the Study of Major Risks. There are important documents for the interested institutions, in this respect.” “As a man of science also concerned by the social-economic and political problems of the world, what do you think: where is humanity going to – a true progress or an imminent catastrophe? Which are the main sources of conflict and the great contemporary crisis?” “This is an issue for a world congress at the U.N.O. It depends on the wisdom of humanity if there‘ll be progress or catastrophe. The powers of the world should think about the future of humankind.” “What are the sources of development in your opinion, those of Asia, including China, Japan, South Korea, etc… or those of the Occident, sometimes stagnating, if not in decline?” “I’m not an economist, so I don’t have an answer to your question. As a modest chemist I have other concerns. I leave such major issues to the wisdom of other people. The Western world has still supremacy in scientific research, but Asian countries come strongly from behind, with great ambitions and potential.” “What are the most spectacular developments in science and technology and, of course, chemistry, in the last years?”
“Chemistry has an essential part in dominating nuclear energy, in space programs (fuels, materials), in modern electronics (semi-conductors), biology (molecular biology) and non-conventional sources of energy (the new American program of the “economy based on hydrogen” up to 2050). There have been progresses in medicine, chemotherapy, but the expectations are still high.” “How will you “reconcile” science and culture in the Romanian Academy and what are the terms of a balance?” “Science belongs to culture in the large meaning of the word. We think of culture only in terms of literature, arts and other creative forms. Anyway, the Romanian Academy should keep a balance and at the same time should keep to its initial aims: the cultivation of the national language and history.” “Which are the contacts you have in mind, for the Romanian academism?” “In the country, the most important contacts are with the educational system (especially universities), the state’s authorities all the cultural and scientific institutions. Abroad, we must consolidate our relations with academies and similar institutions with international scientific and cultural organizations, we must be present in their activity.”
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