The Nuclear Policy Working Group (NPWG) lost a colleague, mentor, and beloved advisor on July 15, 2014, when Dr. Heino Nitsche, Professor in the College of Chemistry at UC Berkeley and staff scientist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, passed away in his sleep.
Heino was an internationally renowned chemist and the Chemistry research focus area lead for the Nuclear Science and Security Consortium, “overseeing the cutting edge NSSC research in nuclear and radiochemistry of heavy elements, radioisotope science and development, rare isotope harvesting, basic studies of chemical fractionation in fallout formation and nuclear forensics, as well as studies of chemistry of irradiated materials, with the goal of developing and transferring technology useful for nuclear forensics and international safeguards.” This year, Heino received the Hervesy Medal Award from the International Committee on Activation analysis in recognition of his career achievements in nuclear analytical chemistry, and also made the news as a member of the team that confirmed the existence of element 117.
At the core of his many groundbreaking contributions to nuclear chemistry lay a mentor and an educator who was passionate about training and educating the next generation of nuclear chemists, scientists, and policymakers to make contributions to global nuclear security. Heino mentored Chemistry graduate student and NPWG research team lead, Eva Uribe, in her dissertation research at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory as part of his Heavy Element Nuclear and Radiochemistry Group, as well as a number of other NSSC students.
Through NSSC, Heino developed a new course, Chemistry 146: Radiochemical Methods in Nuclear Technology and Forensics and spearheaded the modernization of the Nuclear Chemistry Laboratory in the College of Chemistry. He sought to make nuclear forensics education and research available to undergraduates to provide them with the foundation to be able to pursue such research in their future graduate work and careers within the recently revived national nuclear forensics effort. However, his passion for undergraduate education expanded beyond radiochemistry. When the NPWG began development of an interdisciplinary, undergraduate course in nuclear security science and policy in Spring 2014, Heino stepped up to become our faculty advisor. He worked fervently within the College of Chemistry to ensure that we would be able to offer the course to undergraduates in the Fall, and was excited to be working with us to develop the course curriculum.
The NPWG hopes to continue Heino’s legacy and honor his commitment to training and educating the next generation. www.nssc.berkeley.edu