Vol. 23, No.5
to Prof. Valentin A. Koptyug and his IUPAC Career
Prof. Boris F. Myasoedov
|Prof. Valentin A. Koptyug
Prof. Valentin A. Koptyug was an outstanding scientist, a great thinker,
an excellent organizer of science (for 17 years, he was Chairman of
the Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences), and a strong
and determined person. Although his commitments at the Academy took
most of his time, he managed to take an active part in the work of leading
international organizations. Many years of his life were dedicated to
IUPAC, the most authoritative organization consolidating chemists from
56 countries of the world. The first activities of Prof. Koptyug in
IUPAC (1973-1983) were connected with the activities of the Commission
on Molecular Structure and Spectroscopy (I.5) within the Physical Chemistry
Division. Realizing the increasing importance of computer technology
to the chemical sciences, he initiated and successfully accomplished
a project on the development of electronic databases for properties
of chemical compounds.
At the 30th IUPAC General Assembly (Davos, Switzerland, 1979), Prof.
Koptyug was elected to the Bureau (1979-1989). At the 33rd IUPAC General
Assembly (Lyon, France, 1984), he became IUPAC Vice President (1986-1987).
This election signified the international recognition of his scientific
achievements. In January 1988, he became IUPAC President. The election
of Prof. Koptyug as a member of the Bureau led to the most productive
period of his activity in IUPAC. During his years as a Bureau Member
and Officer, environmental problems acquired a global significance,
and Prof. Koptyug 's scientific and organizational work focused on finding
solutions to these challenges. He concentrated his efforts on the reorganization
of the Union 's activities in order to respond adequately to the global
changes occurring in the world and to solve various environmental problems.
Prof. Koptyug actively supported the idea of "horizontal" interdisciplinary
specialized programs in which the IUPAC Divisions and Commissions were
supposed to be engaged. In February 1989, he proposed the first program
on "Chemistry and the Environment", which was adopted by the Scientific
Committee on Problems of the Environment (SCOPE) and the International
Council for Science (ICSU) to deal with environmental problems. In August
1989 at the 35th General Assembly (Lund, Sweden), the IUPAC Bureau approved
the "Chemistry and the Environment" program, and Prof. Koptyug became
its coordinator. Prof. Koptyug realized that the only way to solve global
environmental problems is to consolidate the efforts of the entire chemical
community. He prepared and published the digest of articles entitled
"Compilative Information on International Organizations and Programs
Relating to Chemical and Biochemical Aspects of Environmental Problems"
(IUPAC, SB RAS, Novosibirsk, 1991), where information on international
organizations dealing with environmental problems was summarized and
At the end of his presidency, Prof. Koptyug was appointed an IUPAC
representative to ICSU-SCOPE (1989-1997). In 1992, he became Vice President
of ICSU-SCOPE. Prof. Koptyug responsibly and actively supported the
concept of sustainable development, which was accepted as the main principle
of development of the human community at the famous UN Conference in
Rio de Janeiro (1992), where Prof. Koptyug represented Russia. For his
remaining years after this conference until his death on 10 January
1997, Prof. Koptyug was actively engaged in developing and popularizing
this concept. As the IUPAC representative to ICSU-SCOPE, he participated
in organizing the International Conference ASCEND21, where the role
of science in the 21st century, as well as various approaches to the
solution of environmental problems, were discussed. Prof. Koptyug undertook
many efforts to organize a series of international conferences on Chemical
Research Applied to World Needs (CHEMRAWN), including CHEMRAWN VIII:
"Chemistry and Sustainable Development Toward a Clean Environment, Zero
Waste, and Highest Energy Efficiency", which he organized with academician
Prof. Oleg M. Nefedov, Vice President of the Russian Academy of Sciences,
in September 1992 in Moscow. This conference was held soon after the
UN Conference in Rio de Janeiro.
In 1993, owing to Prof. Koptyug 's efforts, a new international journal,
Chemistry for Sustainable Development, was created. The primary goal
of the journal was to promote better understanding of chemical sciences,
as well as the role of industry in the development of human society.
The fruitful work of Prof. Koptyug in IUPAC and ICSU-SCOPE lasted for
24 years, from 1973 until 1997 and the last days of his life. Prof.
Koptyug easily established contacts with foreign scientists due to his
excellent knowledge of English. His activity in IUPAC was highly appreciated
by scientists all over the world.
Prof. Koptyug had a strong feeling of responsibility toward people
and society. The range of his scientific interests was extremely wide.
He worked on both fundamental and applied problems. His main concern
was with the social role of science and education and their contribution
to the solution of environmental problems and to the sustainable development
of mankind on the threshold of the 21st century.
Prof. Boris F. Myasoedov (V. I.
Vernadsky Institute of Geochemistry and Analytical Chemistry, Russian
Academy of Sciences, Radiochemistry Laboratory, Kosygin Street 19, Moscow,
RU117975; Email:[email protected]), Russian National Representative for the
IUPAC Commission on Radiochemistry and Nuclear Techniques (V.7) and
Vice Chairman of the National Committee of Russian Chemists, has contributed
the following tribute to Prof. Valentin A. Koptyug (IUPAC President,
1987-1989) on the occasion of the 70th anniversary of the birth of the
late Prof. Koptyug (1931-1997). This article previously appeared in
Chemistry in Russia and in the Mendeleev Chemical Society Journal and
is published here gladly at the request of Prof. Myasoedov on behalf
of the National Committee of Russian Chemists.