George DUCA, academician

PhD in chemistry, university professor
president of the Academy of Sciences of Moldova

Republic of Moldova
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Academician Prof. Dr. Dr. h. c. Gheorghe Duca the Doyen of Ecological Chemistry in Eastern Europe

Ecological Chemistry is a very young discipline if compared with the principle chemistry branches like Inorganic, Organic and Physical Chemistry. First started in the USA with publishing the memorable book of Rachel Carson "The Silent Spring" 1962, dealing from very begin¬ning mainly with the fate and behavior of pesticides in the environment. The first Chair of Ecological Chemistry was founded in Germany 1972 at the Munich University of Technology through Prof. Dr. Friedhelm Korte who also introduced the Ecotoxicology as an interface to the disciplines of Life Sciences like Biology, Medicine, Food and Agricultural Sciences.

One has to consider that this period represented the boom years after the World War II; the national states in the Northern Hemisphere were busy to reorganize their destroyed economy and to stabilize their political systems. Nobody took care about environmental pollution along with industrial development. This was the time of high pollution of air, water, soil, and the food chain, of Agent Orange use in Viet Nam, of the Seveso and Bhopal accidents. Performing research on environmental pollution and its impact on life was not that popular in particular in the Emerging Countries of Eastern Europe. Even in the Western Part of Europe we had problems setting environmental topics onto political agenda. It is the merit of scientists and teachers like Rachel Carson, Friedhelm Korte and Gheorghe Duca that our discipline became a matter of course not only in the USA and Europe but throughout the world. Also the research topics shifted from pesticides and acid rain only towards all aspects of environmental pollution and measures against it through the development of clean and green chemistry and technol¬ogies, education of sustainability, and a visible international organization of environmental scientists as controller of governmental and intergovernmental actions.

Acad. Duca studied chemistry in thel 970th and made his PhD 1979 in physical chemistry at the State University of Moldova. Later he went to the University of Odessa in Ukraine and conferred there 1989 a Hability Doctorate of Sciences in Environmental Protection, Kinetics and Catalysis. He became a professor of Moldova State University 1990 and Academician of the Academy of Sciences of Moldova 2000. Prof. Duca's career is typical for pioneers of ecological chemistry; beginning first with a principle chemistry branch and broadens the horizon towards application of the gained knowledge for understanding and solving environmental problems: Ecological Chemistry - Applied Chemistry for Environmental Issues. Today, we are educating the young student's generations from very beginning in environmental disciplines - an opportunity that we did not have when we studied chemistry 30-40 years ago.

Prof. Duca proved to be a very successful member of the environmental science community. He received a great number of Honors, Awards, Fellowships, and Memberships of Internat¬ional Academies and Societies. His research outcomes were documented in more than 250 publications in peer-reviewed international journals, and more than 50 text books, which also give evidence of his efforts as academic teacher. Acad. Duca's impact on the societal issues is very obvious from his scientific, managerial, and political engagements. He was Minister of Ecology, Construction and Territory Development of the Republic of Moldova 2001 till 2004, and following the President of the Academy of Sciences of Moldova 2004 till present.

As Minister of Ecology and President of the Academy of Sciences, Prof. Duca directed the development of the Code for Science and Innovation of his country, the structural reorganization of the Academy, the strengthening of fundamental research in ecology, chemistry, technology, material and social sciences as interdisciplinary stakeholders of social and political developments in the society. It is thanks to him that the Lyceum for Gifted Children was founded as a joint education institution of the Academy of Sciences of Moldova and the Academic University that was acknowledged recently by the Prime Minister of Moldova, Vladimir Filat while visiting this elite school.

I met Prof. Duca the first time when I was invited by the Federal Ministry of Environment and Nature Conservation in Berlin to represent Germany at the Symposium Ecological Chemistry 2005 in Chisinau. This was my very first visit in Moldova. I was surprised that the science language there was still Russian, and a simultaneous translation had to be organized for the international attendees. In the symposium as well as in the working groups we discussed intensely that an international event with the participation of Western scientists should better be held without the need of translation - English only. There, Prof. Duca made a remarkable statement: "The last Symposium on Ecological Chemistry was held in Russian only, the present one is organized bilingually, the next one will be held in English only - hopefully."

This was the starting point of the close cooperation between Prof. Duca and me. We decided to jump for this purpose from Moldova and NIS likely to Germany and NATO. Unfortunately, we could not find enough funding for the organization of the biannual Symposium Ecological Chemistry 2007 somewhere in Germany. But we did not throw in the towel and applied jointly with success for a grant in the frame of NATO SPS Program Science for Peace and Security. This symposium was held 2008 in Chisinau again, but in English only and with the participa¬tion of a huge number of international attendees from Western European Countries.

During the past years, Prof. Duca and I learned each other closer and developed mutual trust. Therefore, I invited Prof. Duca to serve the environmental sciences community through joining the editorial board of CLEAN - Soil, Air, Water - Journal of Sustainability and Environmental Safety that I am editing with Wiley-Blackwell Publisher. I am grateful for all his valuable contributions to our discipline and to our journal.

Acad. Prof. Duca is celebrating this year his 60th anniversary.

Happy Birthday to you, Dear Gheorghe Duca, the Doyen of Ecological Chemistry in Europe.

 

Prof. Dr. Mufit Bahadir,
Director of the Institute of Environmental and Sustainable Chemistry,
Braunschweig, Germany