DIVISION OF PHYSICAL SCIENCES
OFFICE OF THE CHAIR -
May 30, 2018
ALL ACADEMICS, STAFF, AND STUDENTS AT UC SAN DIEGO
It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of Kurt Shuler, professor emeritus of chemistry and biochemistry, who passed away May 9, 2018. He was 96.
Born of Jewish descent in Germany in 1922, Shuler emigrated to the United States alone at the age of 15, determined to leave the country. He later brought his parents over from Germany before escape became impossible under Hitler. During World War II, Shuler served in military intelligence in the Italian Campaign. After the war, he went on to earn his Ph.D. from Catholic University of America, in Washington, D.C., and then he became a postdoctoral scholar at Johns Hopkins from 1949 to 1952.
From a career that spanned federal service at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the Institute for Defense Analysis (IDA), industrial consulting and academia, Shuler was recruited to UC San Diego in 1967. The following year, he and his wife, Bee, built their house in Rancho Santa Fe, in which they lived to the end of their lives. Shuler was a theoretical chemist credited with developing chemical lasers and co-developing the technology used to build the first regenerable carbon monoxide detector. He taught at UC San Diego from 1967 to 1991. He was chair of the department from 1968 to 1970 and from 1984 to 1987. Shuler was very proud of the students he launched into the scientific world, and he maintained ties with many of them, who are now highly accomplished and award-winning scientists. And although he did not miss classrooms of 300 students, Shuler and Bee Shuler stayed connected to students and the university until very recently in other ways.
Shuler is remembered by friends and colleagues as a wonderful mentor from the beginning of his academic career. He provided an enjoyable working environment and brought several colleagues to the university in 1969; retired professor John Wheeler, and current professors Katja Lindenberg and John Weare all arrived at UC San Diego in the same week, bringing physical chemistry theory and applications with them—drawing a number of postdoctoral scholars. Shuler’s influence in shaping an important part of the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry is reflected in these recruitments.
Shuler’s body of work is a legacy on a global scale in theoretical physical chemistry/chemical physics. His importance in shaping the department is reflected in the honorary naming of the Shuler Faculty Scholar in Physical Chemistry. The Shuler scholars so far, Bob Continetti, Judy Kim and Rommie Amaro, carry on the Shuler standard on campus.
The Shulers had no children, and Kurt Shuler was preceded in death by his wife Bee, who died in 2016.
Those wishing to honor Kurt Shuler’s memory can make a donation to the “Kurt E. Shuler Chair in Theoretical Chemistry” (F-4637), or the “Kurt E. Shuler Chemistry Fellowship” (F-4675). Checks should be made out to the “UC San Diego Foundation,” with the appropriate fund numbers placed in the memo line and mailed to:
UC San Diego Gift Processing