Heinz Georg Wagner, professor emeritus at the Max Planck Institute for Dynamic and Self-Organization, passed away July 29, 2020 at the age of 91 in his home in Göttingen, Germany, with his wife, Renate-Charlotte, by his side. A longtime member of The Combustion Institute, Wagner made extraordinary contributions to the field of gas kinetics and combustion reactions, especially regarding the formation of soot.

Professor Wagner was born in Hof, Germany on September 20, 1928. He received a degree in physical chemistry from Technische Hochschule Darmstadt, Germany in 1953; a doctor rerum naturalium from the same university in 1956; a doctor honoris causa from Bochum University in 1989; and another doctor honoris causa from Heidelberg University in 1998.

In his career, Wagner served as a lecturer and professor of physical chemistry at the University of Göttingen and Ruhr University Bochum. In 1971, he was named the Director of the Physical-Chemical Institute of the University of Göttingen. He served as the Secretary of the Academy of Sciences in Göttingen for thirty years, from 1976-2006. Additionally, he served as the Director of Max Planck Institute for Fluid Dynamics; the Vice President of the Faraday Division of the Royal Society of Chemistry from 1978-1982, and the Vice-President of Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft from 1983-1989. As a professor of physical chemistry at the Ruhr University Bochum, he played a key role in the creation and development of the chemistry department at RUB.

A prolific writer, his areas of interest and fields of scholarship included physical chemistry, kinetic of chemical reactions, explosion and combustion processes, vapour-liquid equilibria, and dynamics of separation processes.

Among his numerous honors and prizes, Wagner received the Grand Cross of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany in 1999 and was honored with a celebratory colloquium by the Society of German Chemists in 2018. Wagner served as the Chair of the German Section of The Combustion Institute for many years and became honorary Chair after his retirement. He also served The Combustion Institute as International Secretary from 1982-1992 and received the Bernard Lewis Gold Medal in 1972. He was named a Fellow of The Combustion Institute in 2018 “for pioneering advances in understanding reaction mechanisms in flames with an emphasis on soot formation.”

The Combustion Institute honors Heinz Georg Wagner’s accomplishments and the work of late scientific leaders who have made significant contributions for the advancement of many diverse communities around the world.