Professor Philip Pechukas Obituary

June 23, 2023

Emeritus Prof of Chemistry at Columbia University died suddenly on June, 8, 2023 in Great Barrington, MA. Phil was born in Akron, Ohio, in 1942. He earned his BS from Yale in 1963 and his Ph.D in Chemical Physics from University of Chicago in 1966. He was a postdoctoral fellow at NBS (now NIST) in 1966-67. He joined the Columbia faculty in 1968. He was a gifted theoretical chemist whose work in chemical reaction dynamics, and quantum chaos was deeply insightful and illuminating and serves as an inspiration to many. He also made a significant impact on Columbia through his service as Chair of the Chemistry Department during the planning and design of a new building, and was an extraordinary teacher and mentor to students-- including the many who have gone on to notable research careers as university professors. He was the recipient of many honors including: Fellow of The American Physical Society and the Humboldt Senior Scientist Award 1993-1994. Phil Pechukas was a unique individual, a gifted scientist, and talented writer with an ironic sense of humor. He was a scholar and a gentleman, universally respected by his colleagues and collaborators for his wisdom and sage advice. His passing is a huge loss to the Department of Chemistry and Columbia University and to his many friends and colleagues around the world who valued his larger- than-life personality. He will be sorely missed. Phil suffered the painful loss of his two daughters Fiona and Maria who predeceased him. He is survived by his beloved long-time partner Rachel Brier, her family Lauren, David, Hannah, and Jonah, and his surviving children Sarah, Amy and Rolf, and their children Molly, Hannu, Crash, and Coletta.