Silvia Braslavsky (Finsen Medal) - Max Planck Institute for Chemical Energy Conversion, Germany
Silvia Elsa Braslavsky was born in Buenos Aires (Bs. As.), Argentina, finished her Licenciatura in Chemistry in 1964 at the College of Exact and Natural Sciences in the Universidad de Bs. As. and started her PhD work with Eduardo Lissi in the same College. In October 1966, after the military coup and the “Night of the Long Sticks”, she left with Lissi´s research group to Santiago, Chile, where she finished her PhD work in 1968. After a post-doctoral stay at Penn State University (PSU, USA), in 1972 she became regular Associate Professor in the newly created Universidad de Rio Cuarto (Argentina). Due to political turmoils she left again the Country in 1975 together with her two small daughters. After a short stay at PSU and a year at University of Alberta (Edmonton, Canada), in 1976 she followed a call to the Division of Photochemistry directed by Kurt Schaffner in the Max Planck Institute (MPI) for Radiation Chemistry, where she developed a research program on the molecular basis of light action in biological photosensors, in particular plant phytochrome and its chromophore (open-chain tetrapyrrol) and later on also on retinal proteins. In her group and strongly collaborating with other groups in the Institute, she applied light emission methods, nanosecond flash photolysis and, prominently, time-resolved photothermal methods to the study of biological photoreceptors, including photosynthetic units, various photosensors and chromophores models thereof. Since the recovery of Democracy in Argentina in 1983 she has been very active in cooperation programs and collaborations with Argentina and received in Germany over the years several Argentinian post-docs who developed their own careers upon return to their Country. Since 1984 she has been active in the IUPAC Commission on Photochemistry as a member, its Secretary and its Chair and has headed the IUPAC Sub-Committee on Photochemistry from 2000 to 2017. She has contributed to the elaboration of several IUPAC documents and recommendations such as the Technical Reports on Chemical Actinometers (1989 and 2004), the Glossary of Terms used in Photochemistry (2007), the Glossary of Terms used in Photocatalysis and Radiocatalysis. Since her retirement from the MPI in 2007 she has taught a Course on Biological Photoreceptors in several Countries. Since 2010 she has been in the panel of the Network of Argentinian Scientists in Germany. She received in 2011 the Raíces Prize of the Argentinian Minister of Science, Technology and Innovative Production (MINCyT) for her cooperation activities. Among other recognitions are from the American Society of Photobiology in 1998, from the German Chemical Society together with the Real Sociedad Española de Química the Elhuyar-Goldschmidt Prize in 2004, and from the European Society of Photobiology in 2017. She holds Doctor honoris causa degrees from the Universidad Ramon Llull in Barcelona (2008) and the Universidad de Bs. As. (2016). She organized and chaired the 2000 IUPAC Symposium on Photochemistry in Dresden and the 2014 International Congress on Photobiology in Córdoba, Argentina. The European Photochemistry Association (EPA) distinguished Silvia in 2019 with the newly created “Award Service to the Photochemical Community”. Silvia lives in Germany, spends several months each year in South America, is a proud mother of two daughters, one of them Professor of Sociology at the Ludwig Maximilian University in Munich and the other an Industrial Scientist in Frankfurt. Silvia feels very happy reading, cooking, hiking, swimming and spending time with her four grandchildren.