Juan Francisco García de la Banda was born in Madrid (Spain) in 1921. He studied Chemistry and Mathematics in the Universities of Valladolid, Oviedo and Madrid, completing his Bachelor Degree in 1943. In 1948 he presented his PhD dissertation (“Relation between calorific conductivity and vapor pressure of high boiling point substances”) supervised by Professors Foz-Gazulla and Colomina and carried out at the Instituto de Química Física “Rocasolano” (IQFR) of the Spanish Council for Scientific Research (CSIC).
He studied in Bristol between 1951 and 1952 with Professor William E. Garner with Dr. Dennis A. Dowden at the Catalysis Group at ICI. Afterwards, he returned to Spain, within the framework of the IQFR and founded the “Laboratory on Catalysis”, which became the birthplace of the Instituto de Catálisis y Petroleoquímica (ICP) in 1975. He was the first Director of the ICP and the individual most responsible for enhancing the scope and quality of research in catalysis and biocatalysis in Spain.
He participated in the First International Conference on Catalysis (ICC) held in Philadelphia in 1956 and maintained personal and professional links with many U.S. catalysis researchers, especially through his personal friendship with Dr. Heinz Heinemann throughout their careers. He proposed and organized the 1st Iberoamerican Symposium on Catalysis, held in Madrid in 1968, the first in a series that will celebrate its 25th edition this year in Montevideo.
Professor Garcia de la Banda served in several influential positions within the research and development and scientific structure at the highest levels in the government of Spain. He is without doubt the most influential and impactful promoter of catalysis research in Spain in the 20th century and the key individual in the formative years of the catalysis community in Spain.
His presence and his sage advice will be missed.
Dr. Enrique Sastre
Vice-Director, Instituto de Catálisis y Petroleoquímica, CSIC,