JORTNER, JOSHUA (1933– ), Israeli physical chemist. He was born in Tarnow, Poland and gained his Ph.D. from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem (1960). He joined the staff of the university's department of physical chemistry (1961–65) before moving to the department of chemistry at Tel Aviv University (1964) where he became professor (1966), head of the school of chemistry (1966–72) and deputy rector (1966–69), acting rector, and vice president of Tel Aviv University (1970–72). He was research associate and then visiting professor at the University of Chicago (1962–71) among many visiting distinctions. His initial research concerned energy dynamics and transfer in materials and between molecules. Later he studied order and oscillations in molecules and nanosystems including femtosecond chemistry which concerns very fast chemical reactions and biological processes such as protein folding and conformational changes. His later research concerned the fragmentation on molecular structure induced by ions and had fundamentally important implications for understanding stability in physical and biological systems and perturbing influences such as radiation effects. He continued to work actively in this field. Jortner had a major and continuing influence on the development of science and technology and on scientific education in Tel Aviv University, Israel, and the wider world. He consistently emphasized the importance of inter-disciplinary research. He served on the National Council for Higher Education and the National Council for Research and Development; he was scientific adviser to three Israeli prime ministers. He was also president of the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry which represents sixty member states (1998–99). His many honors include the Weizmann prize (1973), the Rothschild Prize (1976), the Israel Prize in chemistry (1982) the Wolf Prize in chemistry (1982), and the RS Mulliken Medal (1998). He was a foreign associate of the U.S. Academy of Sciences and was elected to the Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities of which he was vice president (1980–86) and president (1986–95).
[Michael Denman (2nd ed.)]
Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.