Mircea D. Gheorghiu (1941-2023)

Categories: Staff

Dr. Mircea D. Gheorghiu, former Director of the Chemistry Undergraduate Teaching Lab, passed away on December 26, 2023.

Mircea D. Gheorghiu, director of the undergraduate chemistry laboratories at MIT from 1995-2008, died on December 26, 2023, at the age of 82 at his home in Coppell, Texas, after a two-year battle with cancer.

Dr. Gheorghiu earned his M.S. and Ph.D. degrees at the Polytechnic Institute, Bucharest, Romania. As a research associate with Roald Hoffmann at Cornell in 1967-1968, his interest in theoretical chemistry grew into a passion.

He was appointed to the faculty of the Polytechnic Institute, Bucharest, where he rose to the rank of full professor in 1991. Before moving to the US, he also served as undersecretary of state for science and technology in the Romanian ministry of education and science.

During the course of his career, Dr. Gheorghiu published more than 100 chemistry research papers and a book on Computers in Chemistry. He loved using computational chemistry, 13C-labeling studies, and NMR to reveal degenerate isomerization reactions, which he called “homomerizations.” He also made important contributions in the areas of heterocyclic compounds, green chemistry, ionic liquids, ketene chemistry, small rings, stereochemistry of cycloaddition reactions, organic synthesis using phase transfer catalysis, and reaction mechanisms.

After moving to the US, he held visiting professor appointments at Boston College and at the Universite du Littoral, Dunkerque, France. He also taught courses at Rice University and the University of Toronto. In 2007, he was awarded an honorary diploma and the “Nenitzescu” medal of the Romanian Chemistry Society. Dr. Gheorghiu’s enthusiasm for research and his kindhearted mentorship inspired many students to pursue careers in chemistry. His many collaborators miss his warm friendship. He is survived by his wife, Dr. Ana Racoveanu, his daughter, Dr. Irina S. Ljungqvist, his stepdaughter, Cristiana Schiketanz, and four grandchildren.

Obituary courtesy of Professor Emeritus Lawrence Scott of Boston College.