I am very saddened to report that last Saturday (June 2), Dr. Bernhard Welz passed away, after severe complications, as consequence of a car accident. Bernhard was cremated last Sunday in Florianópolis (Brazil), the city in which he chose to live for the last 20 years.
Born in Augsburg (Germany), Bernhard was without any doubt one of the driving figures in the development of atomic absorption. As a young doctor, he started doing research in what was then a very new field, when he joined Perkin Elmer in 1967. After more than 30 years working for such company, Bernhard, instead of opting for a peaceful retirement, decided to adventure overseas and became Visiting Professor at the Federal University of Santa Catarina, in Florianópolis. And so Bernhard became Bernardo, and started a new life, meeting his wife and co-worker, Maria. His presence and example invigorated atomic spectrometry in Brazil, to the point that it is one of the leading countries in the field now.
Bernhard was tireless and very active until the very end, traveling to conferences all over the world, and presenting his unique work. It is hard to resume his contribution to the field or overestimate his enormous impact. His work for the last 20 years focused on the development of high-resolution continuum source AAS/MAS, but that is only one of his many achievements. His “Bible” on Atomic Absorption Spectrometry, wrote together with M. Sperling in the last edition, still is the reference book in the field. And let’s not forget that he started organizing several successful conferences, such as the Rio Symposium on Atomic Spectrometry, or the German CANAS.
I remember reading his papers (his series on the use of palladium and magnesium nitrate as a universal modifier is certainly noteworthy) as a young Ph.D. student, meeting him as a young post-doc, and becoming his colleague and friend later on, as a not so young scientist. Bernhard was a true giant, and it was a privilege to share time with him, both personally and scientifically. He will be sorely missed, but his legacy certainly remains. A life well-lived, Bernardo. Rest in peace and many thanks!
Chair of the JAAS Editorial Board