Charles University awards Pavel Hobza a gold medal

One of the most highly cited Czech scientists, computational chemist Pavel Hobza, who is based at Charles University and CATRIN, alongside the Institute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry of CAS (IOCB), is celebrating his birthday today. To mark this occasion, the nation’s oldest university awarded him a Gold Medal of Remembrance.

“When I met Professor Hobza, I was a junior researcher at the Department of Physical Chemistry of Palacký University (UP) and later on I became his colleague there. He brought to the university the spirit of world-class science combined with grace and dignity. Over the past 15 years, he has shaped students’ perspectives through Současná chemie lecture series to which he would invite especially prominent scientists. I believe that Palacký University owes him a lot for its development in the field of physical and theoretical chemistry. Today, Professor Hobza is an invaluable asset, and I feel privileged that he became CATRIN’s first employee in September 2020,” said CATRIN Director Pavel Banáš.

Pavel Hobza was a member of the Scientific Board of Palacký University for eight years, along with being on the Scientific Board of the UP Faculty of Science for 12 years, where he was a professor of physical chemistry. His lecture series Současná chemie became very popular with both students and the general public. During the 14 years of its duration, a number of leading professionals introduced their work and adventures to Olomouc audiences, including heart surgeon Jan Pirk, founder of domestic paediatric oncology Josef Koutecký, psychiatrist Cyril Höschl, Egyptologist Miroslav Bárta, chemists Rudolf Zahradník, Josef Michl, biochemist Jan Konvalinka, astronomer Jiří Grygar, or physicist Pavel Jelínek.

“It has been an honour to work with Professor Hobza at the Department of Physical Chemistry and now at CATRIN. Thanks to his involvement, habilitation and professor appointment procedures in physical chemistry were made possible, and a whole new generation of physical chemists was subsequently raised. I would like to thank him for all the work he has done, contributing to the development of Palacký University, and I wish him good health and enthusiasm for the years ahead. I am convinced that Professor Hobza still has many more pages to add to physical chemistry textbooks,” said Michal Otyepka, congratulating on his colleague’s birthday.

This renowned chemist is also a role model for another of his younger colleagues—Radek Zbořil. “He is a man who can find new and very powerful topics in science and can make the most of them. Moreover, he can get young people genuinely enthusiastic. I’ve always liked him, especially because he can plunge into work and get it done without blabbering on about it. I don’t know anybody else having such qualities,” said Zbořil.

Professor Hobza is a long-time professor of physical chemistry at Charles University, being also an external member of its Scientific Boar. At IOCB, he leads the Non-Covalent Interactions group. He gained global fame through the discovery of improper hydrogen bonds. Its other major scientific successes include elucidating the role of pi-stacking interactions within DNA and proteins, as well as explaining the role of dispersion energy in biomacromolecules. He has received a number of awards, including winning the most important Czech award for science—Česká hlava. He has repeatedly featured on the Highly Cited Researchers list.