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Gennady Zinovjev 1941–2021

21 November 2021
Gennady Zinovjev

Gennady Zinovjev, a prominent theorist in the field of quantum chromodynamics (QCD) and the physics of strongly-interacting matter, a pioneer in experimental studies of relativistic heavy-ion collisions and a leader of the Ukraine–CERN collaboration, passed away on 19 October 2021 at the age of 80. In a career spanning more than 50 years, Genna, as he was known to most of his friends, made important theor­etical contributions to many different topics, ranging from analytical and perturbative QCD to phenomenology, and from hard probes and photons to hadrons and particle chemistry. His scientific activities were concentrated around experimental facilities at CERN and the Joint Institute for Nuclear Research (JINR), Dubna. He was one of the key initiators of the NICA complex at JINR, played a pivotal role in Ukraine becoming an Associate Member State of CERN in 2016 and was one of the founding members of the ALICE collaboration.

Born in 1941 in Birobidzhan (Russian Far East), in 1963, Zinovjev graduated from Dnepropetrovsk State University, a branch of Moscow State University. From 1964 to 1967 he studied at the graduate school of the Laboratory of Theoretical Physics of JINR, after which he spent a year at the Institute of Mathematics and Computer Science of the Academy of Sciences of the Moldavian SSR (Kishinev now Chisinau). He was awarded a PhD in physics and mathematics in 1975 at the Dubna Laboratory of Theoretical Physics and then joined the Kiev Institute for Theoretical Physics (both now the Bogolyubov Institute for Theoretical Physics) of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine, firstly as a staff member and then, from 1986, as head of the department of high-energy-density physics. In 2006 he was awarded the Certificate of Honour of the Verkhovna Rada (Parliament) of Ukraine, and in 2008 was awarded the Davydov Prize of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine becoming a member of the Academy in 2012.

In the mid-1990s Zinovjev initiated Ukraine’s participation in ALICE, and soon started to play a key role in the conception and construction of the Inner Tracking System (ITS), and more generally in the creation of both the ALICE experiment and the collaboration. Overcoming innumerable practical and bureaucratic obstacles, he identified technical and technological expertise within the Ukrainian academic and research environment, and then managed and led the development and fabrication of novel ultra-lightweight electrical substrates for vertex and tracking detectors. These developments, which took place at the Kharkiv Scientific Research Technological Institute of Instrument Engineering, resulted in technologies and components that formed the backbone of the ITS 1 and ITS 2 detectors. He was the deputy chair of the ALICE collaboration board from 2011 to 2013 and also served as a member of the ALICE management board during that time.

Genna was one of those rare people who are equally comfortable with theory, experiment, science, politics and human interactions. He was a passionate scientist, deeply committed to the Ukrainian scientific community. He did not hesitate to make great personal sacrifices to pursue what he considered important for science, his students and colleagues. Equally influential was his prominent role as a teacher and mentor for a steady stream of talent, both experimentalists and theorists. Many of us in the heavy-ion physics community owe him a great deal. We will always remember him for his charismatic personality, great kindness, openness and generosity. 

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