Prof. Walter Thiel, who served until quite recently as a highly dedicated member of the Scientific Advisory Board of ICIQ, passed away on the 23rd of August. The ICIQ community joins his family and friends in their mourning.
Born in Treysa, Germany, Thiel studied chemistry at the University of Marburg (West Germany), where he subsequently obtained his doctorate with A. Schweig in 1973. After a fruitful career both in Europe and North America, he was appointed director at the Max Planck Institute for Coal Research in Mülheim an der Ruhr (Germany) in 1999 and an honorary professor at the neighboring University of Düsseldorf (Germany) since 2001. In 2014 Thiel joined ICIQ’s Scientific Advisory Board.
Walter Thiel’s research covered many areas in theoretical and computational chemistry and made a very significant contribution in a number of them. In the early stages of his career, working as a postdoctoral associate of Michael J. S. Dewar, he developed MNDO, probably the most influential semi-empirical method for the quantum calculation of molecular electronic structure in computational chemistry. Throughout his independent career, his group had a prominent position in the development and application of DFT and DFT/MM to homogeneous catalysis and enzymatic reactions. He also worked in highly accurate correlated QM calculations for smaller molecules. Walter Thiel was also influential in the raise to prominence of computational chemistry in the experimental community, and he worked often in collaboration with first-rate experimental chemists.
A very well-known chemist, Prof. Thiel received many awards such as the Schrödinger Medal from the World Association of Theoretical Chemists (WATOC) in 2002 or the Liebig Medal from the Gesellschaft Deutscher Chemiker (GDCh, German Chemical Society) in 2012. He was also a member of the North Rhine-Westphalian Academy of Sciences, Humanities, and the Arts, of the International Academy of Quantum Molecular Sciences, and the German National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina. He was also the president of the World Association of Theoretical and Computational Chemists (WATOC) from 2011.
The loss of Prof. Walter Thiel will be deeply felt among his many friends and in the large chemical community.