Technion Quantum Pioneer Celebrates 100th Birthday

Prof. Emeritus Ruben Pauncz from the Schulich Faculty of Chemistry at the Technion celebrates his 100th birthday!

Technion President Prof. Uri Sivan congratulated him, saying: “Your birthday is a holiday for the Technion”

Prof. Emeritus Ruben Pauncz from the Schulich Faculty of Chemistry at the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology celebrated his 100th birthday on August 8th and was joined by family, students, and Technion faculty.

1. Prof. Emeritus Ruben Pauncz (sitting) with his son and students and those continuing in his path at the Technion. From right to left: son Avri Pauncz, Prof. Maytal Caspary Toroker from the Faculty of Materials Science and Engineering, Prof. Uri Peskin and Prof. Nimrod Moiseyev from the Schulich Faculty of Chemistry

Prof. Pauncz, a pioneer in the field of quantum chemistry, was born in 1920 in Hungary and was appointed senior lecturer at the University of Szeged. At the outbreak of the Hungarian uprising (1956), at the age of 35, he fled Hungary with his pregnant wife and their toddler child. A few days later, they landed in Israel. Without knowing Hebrew, Prof. Pauncz traveled to the Technion, where he found his own scientific articles in the library, He took these to the Dean of the Faculty of Chemistry Prof. David Ginzburg., who soon invited him to join the Technion faculty.

“Your birthday is a holiday for the entire Technion. You chose Haifa and the Technion as your home and this is where your youngest son was born and raised, who also graduated from the Technion,” wrote Technion President Prof. Uri Sivan in a birthday greeting card. “The course in quantum chemistry that you taught at the Technion was the first of its kind in Israel and probably also in the Western world. There is no doubt that your pioneering contribution put the Technion on the world map as a center for research and teaching in quantum chemistry.”

Prof. Nimrod Moiseyev, founder and head of the Institute for Advanced Studies in Theoretical Chemistry at the Technion was Prof. Pauncz’s “scientific grandson” (a student of Prof. Jacob Katriel who completed his doctoral studies under the supervision of Prof. Pauncz). He visited the family home together with students and other faculty members to honor the occasion. “For a long time, quantum chemistry was confined within the boundaries of physics,” said Prof. Moiseyev. “In the 1950s, Prof. Pauncz was one of the pioneers in the application of quantum mechanics in the field of chemistry and molecules.”

Prof. Pauncz nurtured generations of students who continue his scientific research at the Technion, in Israel, and around the world.

For the scientific autobiography published by Prof. Pauncz in 2017 in the journal of the American Chemical Society (ACS) click here.