Appeared earlier in the IACIS Newsletter 63 of January 2017.
The first time I learnt about Egon Matijevic was while studying the book on light scattering of small particles by Milton Kerker. In many places of the book, references to articles with Matijevic were made in particular where fine particles were discussed. The book as well as the methods to make standard particles by Matijevic were then – and probably still are – widely used in cytology, the study of cells, in particular connected to cancer research.
When I later turned to colloid science, my interest in the work of Matijevic grew again: he was the master in synthesizing particles of all kinds of composition, shapes and sizes. It was very clear that he made Potsdam, NY for a while the Colloid Center of the Universe. It is not for nothing that in this period he was president of the IACIS (1983-1985) and that the IACIS conference of 1985 was held in Potsdam, NY.
When I regularly visited Clarkson University in the late 90’s, Matijevic in his 70s was still very active at Clarkson University and it was very clear that he still played an important role in its leadership. He published 581 papers and held 17 patents. As a mentor, he instructed 15,000 undergraduate students and advised more than 50 PhD candidates, 50 MSc students, and 130 postdoctoral scholars. He delivered more than 70 plenary and keynote lectures at meetings and symposia in dozens of countries worldwide, including the prestigious Faraday Discourse at the Royal Institution in London.
Matijevic was a brilliant scholar whose prolific and inspired research helped to shape modern colloid and surface science. His techniques have found applications in products like the capacitors used in microelectronics, magnetic memories, and the ceramics used in electronic components. It is for this reason that we invited him in 1999 to our workshop on Particles and Surfaces: Fundamentals, Techniques and Applications (see above picture). The organization of the workshop required discussion leaders that were themselves adequately knowledgeable in the field of their session and Matijevic did not disappoint us!
59 years of service to Clarkson University, indeed their oldest and longest serving active, full-time faculty member, have now come to an end. Many like myself will cherish good memories of him despite his at times strong opinions and incredible drive. As IACIS we should be thankful for him taking the leadership as well as organizing an IACIS conference.