Professor Katsumi Niki

Professor Katsumi Niki, who was a Visiting Associate at the California Institute of Technology, passed away on May 4, 2004. He felt ill during a research meeting with students and faculty on the 3rd of May, and was rushed to Huntington Hospital in Pasadena, California, where he died on 4th. The cause of his death was acute heart failure, which was totally unexpected, as he was energetically pursuing his research. It is a great tragedy that we have lost an important leader in the field of Bioelectrochemistry.

He was born in Kanagawa, Japan on March 8, 1931. After his undergraduate studies at Yokohama National University, he entered Tokyo Institute of Technology and completed his Master’s degree studies in 1957. During his years at Sumitomo Chemical Co., Ltd., he went to the U.S.A. to study at the University of Texas at Austin under the direction of Professor N. Hackerman, where he received his Ph. D. in 1966. He joined the Department of Electrochemistry at Yokohama National University as a Lecturer in 1968 and was promoted to Full Professor in 1983. He also earned a Doctorate of Engineering from Tokyo Institute of Technology in 1978. After retiring from Yokohama National University in 1996, he continued his research on electron transfer reactions of redox proteins adsorbed on electrodes at Iowa State University (1996-1998), Illinois State University (1998-2000), and the Beckmann Institute, California Institute of Technology (2000-2004).

His most well-known work is the first discovery of the direct reversible redox reaction of proteins on metal electrodes for cytochrome c3 from sulfate reducing bacteria [J. Electrochem. Soc., 124, 1889 (1977); J. Am.Chem. Soc., 101, 3335 (1979)]. One of my strongest memories of him is when he described his excitement when he first obtained this amazing result, and the efforts he made until the findings were recognized. He also played a vital role in building bridges between Japan and other countries in the fields of Electrochemistry and Physical Chemistry. He had been involved with the IUPAC, ECS, and ISE in numerous roles and had served as the President of ISE from 1997 to 1999.

He is survived by his wife and two children who live in Japan.