In Memoriam: Carol Creutz

Carol Creutz

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Senior Scientist Emeritus and former Chemistry Department Chair Carol Creutz died July 10, 2013. She was 68.

Creutz joined the staff of Brookhaven National Laboratory on November 1, 1972, as a Research Associate after earning her Ph.D. at Stanford University in 1970 and holding an Assistant Professorship at Georgetown University from 1970 to 1972. She rose through the ranks to Tenured Chemist in 1978, Senior Chemist in 1989, and Chemistry Chair in 1995—the first woman to hold a chair position at Brookhaven Lab—before retiring in 2012.

In the course of her graduate work, she prepared and characterized the charge-transfer absorption in a novel binuclear transition-metal complex that soon became known as the Creutz-Taube ion. Her 1983 review of the rapidly developing area continues to be widely cited. At Brookhaven Lab, her work focused on the detailed mechanisms of a variety of electron-, atom-, and ion-transfer reactions. She determined the thermodynamics and kinetics of the reactions using a broad range of experimental techniques and demonstrated that the transformations played an important role in schemes using solar energy to effect the decomposition of water into hydrogen and oxygen and the reduction of carbon dioxide. 

Creutz’s career spanned 40 years at the Lab with a large number of highly regarded contributions in inorganic, mechanistic and photochemistry within the department’s solar conversion effort. Her scientific accomplishments made her a key contributor to the strong worldwide reputation of the Lab’s Solar Photochemistry program. She authored and co-authored more than 140 peer-reviewed publications which have been cited more than 11,000 times. She was also an important contributor to the solar photochemistry community, frequently serving as organizer of meetings or reviewer of programs. 

“Carol was a distinguished scientist, and an important leader for the Chemistry Department,” said Alex Harris, current chair of the Chemistry Department. “As Chemistry Chair, Carol saw the Department through a difficult period of tight funding for chemical sciences research. Her leadership helped to begin reorienting the Department to its successful current focus on basic energy research.” 

Following her period as Chair, Creutz returned to research in the Solar Photochemistry program. Harris added, “She continued to be active in research and was a very valuable senior member of the Artificial Photosynthesis group, with deep knowledge of the scientific challenges that engage the group’s effort. She continued to be very involved in the group even after her retirement last fall. She will be greatly missed by her colleagues and friends in the Department.”

Creutz is survived by her husband Michael, a distinguished theoretical physicist in the High Energy Theory Group in the Lab’s Physics Department. They met in high school, were married in 1966, and both attended Stanford before arriving together at the Lab in 1972.

She is also survived by her daughter Lela Creutz, Lela’s husband Tomohisa Welsh, and two grandchildren, Lily and Seiji, of Raleigh, N.C., as well as her sisters Robin McCarthy of Eugene, Ore., and Margaret Hicks of Chico, Calif.

Tags: chemistry

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