Professor Michael Kasha, Doctor Honoris Causa of the Gdansk University
Professor Michael Kasha (1920-2013) obtained his doctor's degree in 1945 at the University of California in Berkeley (USA), having prepared his dissertation under the guidance of Gilbert N. Lewis, a well known physical chemist. Afterwards he did his academic training with Robert Mulliken, winner of the Nobel Prize for chemistry. In 1951 prof. Kasha accepted a post at the State University in Tallahassee, Florida, where he was working until his retirement. In 1960 he established at his home University the Institute of Molecular Biophysics, which he was connected with for the whole period of his research activity.
Prof. Kasha's scientific achievements in the field of photochemistry, molecular spectroscopy and biophysics brought him worldwide renown. His scientific research made a timeless contribution to study on the electron nature of metastable states which appear in organic compounds and dyes. He was the author of rules defining electron states which may produce radiation emission (Kasha Rules No 1 and 2). Prof. Kasha proposed an original method for classifying electron states in molecules of organic compounds (known in spectroscopic literature as Kasha's way of recording). He was the author of the rules concerning proton jump between various heteroatoms of a molecule in electron-excited state.
Professor Michael Kasha was the author of several hundred of scientific papers and other elaborations, which were the effect of his numerous and varying interests. He wrote a book titled “Fauna of Florida”, and was the author of many essays and reminiscences concerning his cooperation with renowned scientists (Gilbert Lewis) and Nobel Prize winners (Robert Mulliken, James Franck and Albert Szent-Györgi). Prof. Kasha wrote many musical interpretations and was the author of a patent concerning guitar construction. He also developed new species of flowers.
Professor Michael Kasha comprehensively supported cooperation with scientists from the Institute of Experimental Physics at the University of Gdańsk. Many people from the University of Gdańsk did their academic training or conducted research in his laboratories. Prof. Kasha supported financially the academic exchange by purchasing equipment, reagents and scientific literature. He also funded numerous scholarships which made it possible for Polish scientists to make a stay in the Institute he had created.
The Institute of Experimental Physics at the University of Gdańsk, together with the Institute of Chemistry took the initiative to award prof. Kasha with the title of doctor honoris causa (the Council of the Institute of Chemistry passed a resolution concerning this matter on the 30th August 1991). Professors Alfons Kawski, Józef Kwiatkowski, Stefan Paszyc and Jerzy Szychliński acted as reviewers in the procedure for the award of the degree. Professor Józef Heldt was the promoter of the doctoral procedure. By the resolution passed on the 24th October 1991, the Senate of the University of Gdańsk awarded the title of doctor honoris causa to prof. Michael Kasha “for pioneer achievements in the field of physical chemistry, in particular in electron molecular spectroscopy, as well as for his contribution to cooperation with the University of Gdańsk”. The diploma-awarding ceremony took place on the 24th September 1992.
There were sentimental connections between prof. Kasha and Gdańsk, as his wife Lilli was born here. The Professor himself acknowledged his Lemko roots.