Josef Michl (1939 – 2024)

Josef Michl (1939 – 2024)

Author: ChemistryViews

Josef Michl, Professor at IOCB Prague (Institute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry of the Czech Academy of Sciences), Czech Republic, and University of Colorado, Boulder, CO, USA, passed away on May 13, 2024. IOCB Prague Director Jan Konvalinka said: “The science he did was not only brilliant but also beautiful, playful, and witty. Besides that, and above all, he was a kind and generous man. We will miss him dearly.” [1]

Josef Michl has performed important work in many areas of chemistry, with a focus on physical organic chemistry, combining experimental and computational methods in research that ranged from photochemical reactions to nanoscience.

He made contributions, e.g., to theoretical and experimental aspects of organic photochemistry, magnetic circular dichroism, the chemistry and theory of biradicals and biradicaloids, electronic and vibrational spectroscopy with polarized light, the chemistry of silicon and the electronic structure of its constituents, theory and experiments on the sputtering of frozen gases, the preparation, properties, and theory of organic metabolic intermediates, cluster ions, molecular building blocks for supramolecular structures, and boron chemistry.

Lately, he had been working on topics such as the photochemistry and photophysics of singlet fission for higher efficiency solar cells, the synthesis and properties of porphene (a two-dimensional conjugated polymer similar to graphene), surface-mounted molecular rotors for nanoelectronics, and the alkylation of gold surfaces.


Josef Michl was born on March 12, 1939, in Prague, then the capital of the Czechoslovak Republic. He studied chemistry at the Charles University in Prague and received his Ph.D. from the Czechoslovak Academy of Sciences, Prague, under the supervision of Rudolf Zahradník. As a postdoctoral fellow, he worked with R. S. Becker at the University of Houston, TX, USA, with Michael Dewar at the University of Texas at Austin, TX, USA, and with F. E. Harris at the University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT, USA, from 1965 to 1970. In 1967/68, he was a Research Assistant at the Institute of Physical Chemistry of the Czechoslovak Academy of Sciences, and in 1968/69, Assistant Professor with Jan Linderberg at the Institute of Chemistry of the University of Aarhus, The Netherlands.

In 1970, Michl was appointed Research Associate at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City, USA, where he became Associate Professor in 1971 and Full Professor in 1975. In 1986, Michl moved to the University of Texas at Austin, but remained affiliated with the University of Utah as an Adjunct Professor. In 1991, he accepted a position at the University of Colorado at Boulder. Since 2006, Michl had also been Research Director at the Institute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry of the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic.

Among his many honors, he received an honorary doctorate from Georgetown University, Washington, D.C., USA, in 1990, the Schrödinger Medal in 1992, the Heyrovský Medal from the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic in 1994, the Gold Medal from Charles University in Prague in 1995, the James Flack Norris Award from the American Chemical Society (ACS) in 2001, and the Otto Wichterle Award from the Czech Chemical Society in 2001. He had been a Member of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences since 1986, the International Academy of Quantum Molecular Science since 1988, and of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences since 1999, as well as an Honorary Member of the Czech Learned Society since 1995



[1] Josef Michl, world-renowned Czech chemist, passes away, Press release IOCB Prague 13 May 2024. (accessed May 15, 2024)


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Selected Publications


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