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Petr Zuman: Respected In His Field

POTSDAM, N.Y. – There is, perhaps, no greater tribute that can beconferred upon an individual than that of a gathering of peers in honor ofthe person's accomplishments in their field.

So when the 191st Electrochemical Society convened in Montréal, Que., recently for their annual meeting, one of the events on tap was athree-day symposium in honor of Clarkson University Distinguished Emeritus Resident Professor Petr Zuman of Potsdam.

Zuman explained that while symposiums held on campus are quite common--one was held for him here last year-- international symposiums honoring aperson are few and far between.

For three days, scientists, researchers and professors from three continents shared their latest findings with colleagues. Zuman said that he had worked with or knew nearly everyone there.

And it's not just his peers that are honoring him. Three well-respectedjournals in the field have each published or will publish special issuesfeaturing Zuman: Electroanalysis (published last year), The Journal ofElectroanalytical Chemistry (published in May) and Microchemical Journal(to be published in October).

How rare is that? Aside from the President of the United States, howmany people get special issues of Time, Newsweek and U.S. News and WorldReport published about them?

The field of organic and biological electrochemistry has had no betterfriend than Zuman. In a career spanning all or part of six decades, ten U.S. presidents and the beginning and end of the Cold War, he has worked with a Nobel scientist (J. Heyrovsky), written more than 350 research papers as well as 15 text books and reference books, and taught and lectured at colleges and universities from Japan to America.

He is a member of several organizations including the American Chemical Society, and a fellow of both the International Society for Electrochemistry and the Royal Society of Chemistry. And he has won numerous awards including the Heyrovsky Medal in 1960, and the Beccari Medal in 1991 from the University of Bologna, where last year he receivedan honorary doctorate.

His greatest impact could perhaps be measured in the students he workedwith. A number of his charges have gone on to careers of their own inacademia and science. Zuman pointed out that three of his Czech studentswere chairs of chemistry departments at American colleges (one iscurrently a member of the American Academy of Science). One of his Englishstudents is a professor of civil engineering at a college in Sidney,Australia. And one of his American students is a professor at theUniversity of Connecticut.

Look, research is basically teaching again, but at a different level.The thing which should really remain after you are the people who arecontinuing doing the things that you have started.

I enjoy my life here. Otherwise I wouldn't be here, he stated. "I cantell you that I have had a number of opportunities to go else where, and I would never change."

All of the honors and accolades afforded one human being can be veryspecial indeed. But Zuman said that he finds just as much joy being in hisoffice every day and doing work."I still enjoy doing research," he said. "I have, almost daily, inquiriesfrom people, either by phone, or by fax, or by letters, and, I'm trying to help other people. It's one of the great pleasures of my life."

And, on the subject of his career, he is just as modest.

I feel very lucky and very fortunate in all aspects, there was no doubt about that. I was always able to do things which I enjoy doing–teaching and research.

[News directors and editors: For more information, contact Annie Harrison, Director of Media Relations, at 315-268-6764 or]

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