Adam Heller and ECS Through the Years

Remember our Official ECS Major League Trading Cards? This year, we're adding a special card in honor of Adam Heller to the series.

Get your official Adam Heller trading card at the 228th ECS Meeting!

With the fifth international Electrochemical Energy Summit and the ECS Lecture by Adam Heller, the  228th ECS Meeting is poised to be one of our most significant programs in the history of the Society. While Heller’s contributions to science are well known—from lithium batteries to biomedical engineering to photoelectrochemistry—his connects to ECS may not be as familiar, but nonetheless run deep.

Notably, this is not the first lecture delivered by Heller at an ECS meeting. During the 180th ECS Meeting in 1991, Heller delivered one of four ECS lectures entitled “On the Impact of Electrochemistry on Biomedicine and the Environment.” Now, 28 years later Heller will be delivering yet another lecture at the 228th ECS Meeting in the same location as the 180th. With his scientific themes transcending the years, his lecture this year is entitled “Wealth, Global Warming and Geoengineering.”

Over 50 Years of Innovation

Aside from delivering the much anticipated ECS Lecture at the 228th ECS Meeting, Heller will also be accepting the Heinz Gerischer Award for his fundamental and applied contributions to electrochemistry and its uses. This award is especially significant due to the connection between Heller and Gerischer.


Gerischer's immense contributions continue to leave an indelible mark, not only in electrochemistry, but also in physical chemistry and materials chemistry.

Gerischer’s immense contributions continue to leave an indelible mark, not only in electrochemistry, but also in physical chemistry and materials chemistry.

An article by Adam Heller, Dieter Kolb, and Krishnan Rajeshwar in the Fall 2010 issue of Interface.

Heinz Gerischer was born on March 31, 1919 in Wittenberg, Germany. He studied chemistry at the University of Leipzig between 1937 and 1944 with a two-year interruption because of military service. In 1942, he was expelled from the German Army because his mother was born Jewish; he was thus found “undeserving to have a part in the great victories of the German Army.” The war years were difficult for Gerischer and his mother committed suicide on the eve of her 65th birthday, in 1943. His only sister, Ruth (born in 1913), lived underground after escaping from a Gestapo prison and was subsequently killed in an air raid in 1944.

In Leipzig, Gerischer joined the group of Karl Friedrich Bonhoeffer, a member of a distinguished family, members of whom were persecuted and murdered because of opposition to Nazi ideology. Bonhoeffer descended from an illustrious chemical lineage of Wilhelm Ostwald (1853-1932) and Walther Hermann Nernst (1864-1941), and kindled Gerischer’s interest in electrochemistry, supervising his doctoral work on periodic (oscillating) reactions on electrode surfaces, completed in 1946. He followed Bonhoeffer to Berlin where his PhD supervisor had accepted the directorship of the Institute of Physical Chemistry at the Humboldt University, and also became the department head at the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Physical Chemistry in Berlin-Dahlem (later the Fritz Haber Institute). Gerischer himself was appointed as an “Assistent.” Many years later, Gerischer would return to this distinguished institution as its director. With the Berlin Blockade and the prevailing economic conditions the post-war research was carried out under extremely difficult conditions.

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