Prof. Michael Buback has been awarded the status of Emeritus Fellow in Division IV. This 2020 appointment reflects his standing as a scientist and continuing service to the division and to the Union.

Prof. Michael Buback (currently an Emeritus Research Professor at Göttingen University, Germany) is recognized as the world’s leading authority on radical polymerization kinetics, in particular with regard to the termination reaction and high-pressure processes. He came to this area through his postgraduate and habilitation studies on the supercritical state of pure substances under Prof. Ernst Ulrich Franck at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology. This naturally led into radical polymerization of ethylene, and the rest of history! Through a long and illustrious career as Professor of Technical and Macromolecular Chemistry at Göttingen University, Michael has authored over 340 (peer-reviewed) papers and has especially achieved fame as the pioneer of pulsed-laser techniques for the study of radical polymerization kinetics. In particular his SP-PLP-EPR method is without peer for the investigation of termination and backbiting kinetics, reactions which otherwise are notoriously difficult to tie down. Awards recognizing his outstanding research career include the Dechema Award (1990), the Bunsen-Denkmuenze (2007), the Hermann F. Mark Medal of the Austrian Research Institute (2007), the International Award of the Society of Polymer Science Japan (2015), the International Award of the Society of Polymer Science, Japan (2016), and IUPAC’s Stepto Plenary Lecturer Award (inaugural winner in 2016).

The last of these awards additionally acknowledges “contribution to the polymer science community beyond the research domain”, which in Michael’s case has been especially through IUPAC, predominantly via two channels:

(1) Michael was present at the famous symposium at Santa Margherita Ligure, Italy in 1987 when the IUPAC Subcommittee on Modeling of Polymerization Kinetics and Processes was formed. He immediately became a leading light in its operations, which led to him being Chairperson from 1995 to 2007, in which capacity he was also a Titular Member of the Polymer Division from 1997. He has been a central figure in four high-impact series of publications by this Subcommittee, namely on dilemmas (440 citations), propagation (2310 citations), termination (330 citations) and RAFT (480 citations). To this day Michael retains his involvement, being a TGM for projects on styrene kinetics, chain-length-dependent termination, and EPR spectra of propagating radicals. The phenomenal impact of this IUPAC work, all with Michael as leading contributor and driving figure, should be apparent.

(2) Following election in 2007, Michael served as Vice President (2008-2011), President (2012-2015) and Past President (2016-2017) of the Polymer Division, with all the duties that these positions entail, all discharged with enlightenment and efficiency.

Of course there has been IUPAC service in other ways. For example, Michael was a member of Bureau for 2012-2015. He has been on the judging panel for several IUPAC Awards on multiple occasions: the IUPAC-SOLVAY International Award for Young Chemists, the DSM Materials Sciences Award, the Hanwha-Total (formerly Samsung) IUPAC Young Scientist Award, and the Polymer International – IUPAC Award for Creativity in Applied Polymer Science or Polymer Technology. He was the chair and main organizer of two IUPAC-sponsored International Symposia on “Radical Polymerization Kinetics and Mechanism”, held in June 2001 and September 2006.

Outside of chemistry Michael has been a Member of the Göttingen Academy of Sciences (since 2000), a member of Rotary International, and has written two books on the assassination of his father, Der Zweite Tod meines Vaters (2009) and “Der General muss weg!”: Siegfried Buback, die RAF und der Staat (2019). In the latter capacity he has frequently appeared in all forms of the German media since 2007.

Having recently celebrated his 75th birthday, now would seem a felicitous moment to acknowledge Michael via conferment of Emeritus Fellowship of the Polymer Division of IUPAC – the honor is abundantly deserved!


Emeritus Fellow info page
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