Joshua Jortner

Joshua Jortner
Professor (Emeritus) of Chemistry, Tel-Aviv University


Joshua Jortner was born in Poland in 1933 and immigrated with his parents as refugees to Israel during the second world war in 1940. He received his Ph.D. from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in 1960. He was a Lecturer in the Department of Physical Chemistry at the Hebrew University from 1961-63. From 1962-64 he was a Research Associate at the University of Chicago. In 1964 he was appointed to a Professorship in the Department of Chemistry at Tel Aviv University and served as its first Chairman. During 1966-72 he served as Deputy Rector, Acting Rector and Vice President of Tel Aviv University. From 1973-2003 he has held the position of the Heinemann Professor of Chemistry at the School of Chemistry, the Raymond and Beverly Sackler Faculty of Exact Sciences of Tel Aviv University. He has held a Professorship at the University of Chicago (part time appointment 1964-71), and Visiting Professorships at the University of Copenhagen (1974, 1978), and the University of California, Berkeley (1975). In 1977 he was the Fairchild Fellow at the California Institute of Technology, in 1995 he was the Christensen Visiting Fellow, St. Catherine's College, Oxford, and from 1998-2000 he was appointed to the International Research Chair "Blaise Pascal" of the Fondation de l'École Normale Supérieure, France.

Jortner holds honorary doctorates from the Ben Gurion University of the Negev, Israel (1985), the Pierre and Marie Curie University of Paris, France (1986), the Technical University of Munich, Germany (1996), the Technion, Israel Institute of Technology, Haifa, Israel (2005), the Weizmann Institute of Science, Rehovot, Israel (2005), the Free University of Berlin, Germany (2005), and the Humboldt University, Berlin, Germany (2005) . Among his awards are the International Academy of Quantum Science Award (1972), the Weizmann Prize (1973), the Rothschild Prize (1976), the Kolthof Prize (1976), the Israel Prize in Exact Sciences (1982), the Wolf Prize in Chemistry (1988), the Honorary J. Heyrovsky Medal (1993), the August Wilhelm von Hofmann Medal (1995), the Robert S. Mulliken Medal (1999), the Joseph O. Hirschfelder Prize (1999), the Marie Sklodowska-Curie Medal (2003), the medal of the Israel Chemical Society (2004), the Lisa-Meitner Award of the Humboldt Foundation (2007) and the EMET Prize (2008).

A member of the Israeli Academy of Sciences and Humanities, he is a member of thirteen Academies of Sciences and Learned Societies in the United States, Europe and Asia. He is a member of the three Academies of the USA, serving as a Foreign Honorary Member of the American Philosophical Society, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and a Foreign Associate of the National Academy of the United States of America. Jortner is a foreign honorary member of the Academies of Sciences of Denmark, Poland, Romania, Russia, India, the Netherlands and the Czech Republic. He is a member of the International Academy of Quantum Molecular Sciences, the Academia Scientiarium et Artium Europaea and the Leopoldina National Academy of Germany. He held many honorary lectureships and fellowships, among them the Hinshelwood Lectures (Oxford University, England), the Robert S. Mulliken Lecture (University of Chicago, USA), the Spiers Memorial Lectureship (Faraday Division of the RSC, England), the Jean Perrin Lecture (Paris, France), the R.A.M. Rao Distinguished Lectureship (Bangalore, India), and the Aharon Katzir Lecture (Rehovot, Israel).

Joshua Jortner's scientific interests span a broad range of areas in physical chemistry and theoretical chemistry. Jortner's scientific research focuses on the exploration of the phenomena of energy acquisition, storage and disposal in isolated molecules, clusters, condensed phases and biophysical systems. He made outstanding contributions to the understanding of the dynamics of complex chemical systems from large molecules to biomolecules, first through the development of the theory of intramolecular radiationless transitions, then through the theory of electron transfer including charge separation in photosynthesis and in biopolymers, and through the establishment of cluster size effects and dynamics of large finite systems from clusters to ultracold gases. His work pioneered the concept of structure-dynamics-function relations for biophysical and chemical change. His scientific contributions had an audible impact on the development of chemical dynamics, photoselective laser chemistry, ultrafast chemistry, molecular electronics and nanoscience.

Jortner is the author or co-author of over 720 scientific articles and the co-author and co-editor of 28 books. The international recognition of the impact of Jortner's scientific work is manifested by his ranking among the 500 world leading chemists in the H–index of the Institute of Scientific Information, where Jortner is ranked in place 30 (with the index of H–89).

Joshua Jortner acted as advisor and mentor to countless colleagues, both junior and senior, in Tel Aviv University, in Israel and around the world. He served as a research supervisor to more than fifty graduate students at Tel Aviv University, and the post doctorate fellows who worked with him shape modern chemical sciences in Israel, Europe and the U.S. His scientific collaboration in Israel and all around the world is extensive and intensive. Jortner has been a major contributor to building and maintaining the strength of chemical physics, of the chemical sciences and of science and scholarship at Tel Aviv University and in the country.

Jortner contributed to shaping scientific research and public service in Israel. He served as the President of the Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities (1986-1995), and as the first Chairman of the Israel National Science Foundation (1986-1995), which propelled into the country's major granting agency. He acted as Science Advisor to three Prime Ministers of Israel, Yitzhak Shamir, Yitzhak Rabin and Shimon Peres (1987-1995). On the international arena, he served as the President of the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (1998-2000). His current public service activities span a variety of issues concerning science and public policy, including public understanding of science and the maintenance of the scientific enterprise in Israel and throughout the world.

Joshua Jortner is married to Ruth T. Jortner, MD, a cardiologist. Their son Roni is a neurobiologist and their daughter Iris is a cellist.

Research Interests

Exploration of the phenomena of energy acquisition, storage and disposal in isolated molecules, clusters, condensed phases and biophysical systems

Radiationless transitions in isolated large molecules

Relaxation processes in condensed phases

Electron transfer and transport

Primary charge separation in photosynthesis

Electronic states and transport in molecular crystals, biopolymers, and disordered materials

Dynamic processes in biophysics

Cluster energetics, spectroscopy and dynamics. Microscopic solvation.
Energetic and dynamic cluster size effects

Dynamics and response of nanostructures

Ultrafast dynamics

Ultraintense laser-matter interaction

Nuclear fusion driven by Coulomb explosion

Ultracold finite systems

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