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Josip Kratohvil Of Potsdam Named Clarkson University Professor Emeritus
[A photograph of Josip Kratohvil for newspaper use is available at http://www.clarkson.edu/news/photos/kratohvil.jpg]
But Clarkson University Chemistry Professor Josip Kratohvil could tell you how the beautiful hues at the end of a long summer day are caused by the way light rays scatter through fine particles of dust in the atmosphere.
Kratohvil can also tell you how those same properties can cause water to look murky, or how the properties of the smallest bits of matter on earth give soaps - or bile salts in your liver - their detergent capabilities.
There probably isn't too much that the Clarkson professor can't tell you about colloids, which he describes for the layman as "the science of very small matter."
The longtime Chemistry professor will be recognized as Professor Emeritus by the Board of Trustees at Clarkson University during Commencement exercises on Sunday for more than 30 years of service to the University and to the study of colloid and surface science.
A colleague and fellow editor of the Journal lauded Kratohvil's "truly remarkable" breadth of knowledge about colloid and surface science, but the retiring Clarkson professor is amazed at how his chosen field has exploded over the years, noting, "There's so much stuff going in. It's just incredible."
But despite the time and effort needed in editing the scientific periodical, and his detailed investigation into light-scattering properties and biliary colloids found in solutions of bile salts, Kratohvil considers himself, first, last and always a teacher.
The longtime Chemistry professor likes to tell the story of a Harvard professor who was courted and caught by rival Columbia University. Students at Harvard, Kratohvil noted, published an advertisement in the Columbia newspaper that said an undergraduate's best chance of meeting this particular professor was to bump into him at an expensive restaurant.
Teaching, Kratohvil noted, "That's why we're here in the first place."
Kratohvil has also served as chairman of the American Chemical Society and as a council member of the International Association of Colloid and Interface Scientists from 1986 to 1990.
Kratohvil noted that the Journal of Colloid and Interface Science was first published in 1946 by Columbia professor Victor LaMer, with the help of an aspiring graduate student named Milton Kerker, who came to Clarkson in 1949– and who brought a young professor Kratohvil to Clarkson in 1960, following stays in Ottawa, London and the University of Zagreb in his native Croatia, then Yugoslavia. Editorship of the prestigious journal has been passed, mentor to protégé, from LaMer to Kerker and eventually to Kratohvil– a job he hopes to continue well past his official retirement at Clarkson. Mrs. Luella LaMer Slaner, in fact, recently contributed $1.5 million to Clarkson to create an endowed chair in memory of her late father, and in recognition of Clarkson's leadership in colloid and surface.
Kratohvil added that he has no plans to leave his adopted home of Potsdam. As for the future, Professor Kratohvil is fond of quoting Yogi Berra: "When you arrive at the fork in the road, take it."