Siberian Branch
of Russian Academy of Sciences


Valentin Afanasievich Koptyug

(1931 - 1997)

We are deeply grieved to announce that Academician Valentin A. Koptyug died suddenly on 10 January 1997 at the age of 65. He was Vice-President of the Russian Academy of Sciences and President of the Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Director of the Novosibirsk Institute of Organic Chemistry. For his contribution in the development of Soviet science he was awarded the Lenin prize and the title of Hero of Socialist Labour.

Valentin A. Koptyug was a prominent Russian scientist in the field of physical, synthetic and applied organic chemistry.

In 1954 Valentin Koptyug graduated from the D.I.Mendeleev Institute of Chemical Engineering in Moscow. He took his Ph.D in 1957. Since 1959 he had been working in the Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences: first as a researcher and then (since 1960) as a laboratory head. In 1965 he defended his D. Sc. thesis. In 1968 he became professor and corresponding member of the USSR Academy of Sciences. In 1979 he was elected acting member of the USSR Academy of Sciences (later - Russian Academy of Sciences). Between 1978 and 1980, he was the head of the Novosibirsk State University. In 1980 he was elected Vice-President of the USSR Academy of Sciences and head of its Siberian Branch. Since 1987 he had been also in charge of the Novosibirsk Institute of Organic Chemistry.

He was engaged in fundamental research of the mechanisms of isomerization and electrophilic substitution in aromatic compounds as well as of the problems of carbocations chemistry. His applied studies dealt with the development of new synthesis techniques for the production of various classes of chemical compounds and their practical application (antioxidants for polymers; additives for improving rheological properties of petroleum; quenching media for decreasing warping of thin-walled elements, etc.). He was the first to apply new physical methods, mathematical modelling and data bases in chemical research practice.

He published over 300 scientific papers and 3 monographs. He was the author of 25 inventions. The works of Valentin Koptyug are widely recognised in our country and abroad. He was elected fellow of many national academies of sciences. He was President of the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC) and member of the High-Level Consulting Council for Sustainable Development organised by the UN Secretary-General. At the time of his death he was Vice-President of the Scientific Committee on the Problems of Environment (SCOPE) of the International Council of Scientific Unions.

The subject of his particular concern was ecological science and scientific support for the measures on environment protection. Among his achievements in this direction were the world-first system of closed water cycle at the Selenginsk Pulp-and-Paper Plant in Buryatia and inclusion of Lake Baikal in the UNESCO List of World Natural Heritage Sites.

Upon the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development in 1992 in Rio de Janeiro, V. Koptyug became an active promoter of the Conference ideas and decisions and, together with other scientists, developed the principles of the national strategy of the country's transition to sustainable development.

Valentin Koptyug gave himself completely to any new project he undertook. He initiated publication of the journal "Chemistry for Sustainable Development", and, at great sacrifice of his scientific output, became its editor.

His life's work became the duties of the President of the Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences. Valentin Koptyug was an ardent supporter of socialist idea but he understood the advantages of market economy. He used his knowledge to promote various initiatives on restructuring Russian science. Thanks to his efforts, in extremely difficult circumstances of transition economy, the Siberian Branch has retained its image and significance not only for the Academy but also for the science of the whole country. The Siberian Branch showed examples of how to act in this difficult situation and obtain outstanding scientific results; one of the ways was co-operation with the world scientific community.

Valentin Koptyug had a unique capacity for work and purposefulness, active civic position, adherence to principles combined with tactfulness, self-discipline and insistence. All decisions made by him were based on thorough analysis; he displayed persistence and consistency in their realisation.

He was a beautiful, warm and modest human being. Those of us - and there are many - who were privileged to know and work with Valentin Koptyug will never forget him as a scientist and as a man.

Valentin A. Koptyug is survived by his wife, Irina, and his sons, Andrei and Igor.

Presidium of the Russian Academy of Sciences
Presidium of the Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences

© 1997, Siberian Branch of Russian Academy of Sciences, Novosibirsk