The Michls Planned GiftA Presidential Endowed Chair for Chemistry

Josef Michl and his wife, Sara Allensworth Michl, on a recent visit to Prague.

Former Utah chemistry professor Josef Michl and his wife, Sara Allensworth Michl, have pledged a planned legacy gift to name a future Presidential Endowed Chair in Chemistry.

Josef Michl began his career at the University of Utah in 1970 after obtaining his doctorate at the Czech Academy of Science in Prague and postdoctoral studies at the University of Houston, the University of Texas at Austin, and the University of Utah. In 1986, he moved back to the University of Texas at Austin and then returned to the Rockies a few years later to his present position as a professor of chemistry and biochemistry at the University of Colorado, Boulder.

Michl’s research is characterized as far-reaching and groundbreaking. Trained as a theoretical physical chemist, his greatest impact has been in experimental and theoretical physical organic and materials chemistry—helping to explain how chemical reactions occur and to predict new properties of reactive molecules and materials. His work has impacted the design of molecular electronics and solar energy conversion processes. The recipient of many awards, Michl is a member of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences and holder of the Heyrovsky Gold Medal from the Czech Academy of Sciences.

When not in the lab, he and his wife Sara are frequently found on mountain trails in the Rockies, the Wasatch, or the hills outside of Prague. Michl has played a lead role in establishing and fostering workshops in Telluride, Colorado, such as “Radicals in the Rockies,” a forum for scientific exchange among those doing research in the chemistry of free radical species. Discussions on research ideas take place there both in conference rooms and on the hiking trails.

Presidential endowed chairs are imperative to further advance the chemistry department for the future. These key appointments are at the center of leading academic programs and their impacts are felt not only in the department, but have a ripple effect across the campus. They are the most prominent honor bestowed upon a faculty member. The funds supplied by the endowment allow for distinguished faculty members the financial flexibility to explore and advance scientific research and education.

The Josef and Sara Allensworth Michl Presidential Endowed Chair in the Department of Chemistry will allow the department to recruit and/or retain a world-renowned chemistry faculty member. Professors like these are then able to attract top students, thus having transformational impacts in our research and education missions. The chair will continue to honor their legacy with the University of Utah and the Chemistry Department.

“Josef Michl’s contributions to science will long be remembered because of the hundreds of seminal works he has published,” says Cynthia Burrows, chair of the Department of Chemistry. “The Michl Chair will ensure that his scientific legacy is indelibly linked to the University of Utah, benefiting generations of students and faculty in the future.”