In Memoriam: Paul Grange (1943–2003)

Paul Grange was born in Lyon dur­ing the war. He grad­u­at­ed from the Uni­ver­si­ty of Lyon, which, in 1970 grant­ed him a PhD, for a work done at the Insti­tut de Recherche sur la Catal­yse, in Villeur­banne-Lyon. This was lat­er fol­lowed by a post-doc­tor­al posi­tion in the Lab­o­ra­to­ry of Catal­y­sis and Sol­id State Chem­istry in the then new­ly split Lou­vain Uni­ver­si­ty. In the course of years, the sci­en­tif­ic activ­i­ty of Pro­fes­sor Grange pro­gres­sive­ly shift­ed away from sol­id state chem­istry, his ini­tial inter­est dur­ing his PhD. Lat­er his results in the syn­the­sis of high tran­si­tion tem­per­a­ture super­con­duc­tors and out­stand­ing suc­cess with high­ly dis­persed nitrides, oxyni­trides and the very orig­i­nal syn­the­sis of more com­pli­cat­ed com­pounds schemat­i­cal­ly rep­re­sent­ed by AlPON – ZrPON – AlGaPON – VAl­ON, made this back­ground cru­cial. In the course of 31 years, he changed posi­tion no less than sev­en times. In spite of that, or because of that, he could man­age to have some sort of a “sab­bat­i­cal leave”, in 1983–1984, at INTEVEP in Cara­cas, a stay rich in fruit­ful teach­ings. The last change was in 1996, on his pro­mo­tion to Full Pro­fes­sor (“Pro­fesseur Ordi­naire”). From that time on, the remark­able dynamism of Pro­fes­sor Grange led him to com­bine fun­da­men­tal research on select­ed advanced sub­jects of catal­y­sis (espe­cial­ly oxyni­trides, basic catal­y­sis) with more appli­ca­tion-ori­ent­ed devel­op­ments. In most cas­es the work was direct­ly relat­ed to spe­cif­ic prob­lems of indus­try, but nev­er­the­less per­mit­ted the com­ple­tion of 29 PhD the­ses and 43 grad­u­ate research pro­grams, and the pub­li­ca­tion of 418 arti­cles. Paul Grange engaged in an impres­sive devel­op­ment of activ­i­ties, ini­ti­at­ing co-oper­a­tive pro­grams in Bel­gium and with for­eign uni­ver­si­ties (Bucharest, Tunis, Caen, Argenti­na), and cre­at­ing one of the activ­i­ty branch­es of CERTECH, a uni­ver­si­ty sub­sidiary for applied research. In UCL, he became mem­ber of var­i­ous com­mit­tees, was select­ed as mem­ber of the Research Advi­so­ry Coun­cil of the uni­ver­si­ty, where he was elect­ed Chair­man of the Depart­ment of Applied Chem­istry and Bio-Indus­tries a few days before his death. In less than sev­en years Paul Grange was able to ful­ly devel­op his broad capac­i­ties. He cer­tain­ly felt that as a deserved com­pen­sa­tion after many years of uncer­tain­ties. But the price was wor­ries and work over­load, with that ter­ri­ble end in July.
Writ­ten by B. Del­mon (orig­i­nal text has been abre­vi­at­ed)