Victoria Buch, Professor of Theoretical Chemistry and Human Rights Activist (1954-2009)

21 June, 2009
Victoria Buch

Victoria Buch was born in Poland in 1954, where her family remained after the Shoa of the second world war, in which her grandmother and aunt were murdered in the Treblinka extermination camp. After the Six Days War of 1967, a wave of antisemitism swept Poland, Victoria's parents lost their academic appointments, and the family made Aliyah to Israel. Buch studied chemistry at the Hebrew University before her army service. During her enrollment, she served as a liaison officer, and after discharge, started her graduate studies with Professor Robert (Benny) Gerber at the Fritz Haber Center. Buch graduated in the mid-'80s and started a postdoc at Harvard, together with her husband, Professor Ron Elber. In 1993 Buch began her tenure at the Fritz Haber Center in the Hebrew University, where she obtained full professor's rank. 
On the methodological side, Buch's research achievements included the development of rigid-body treatment of molecules in diffusion quantum Monte Carlo (QMC) simulations and quantum path-integral simulations of mixed para-D2 and ortho-D2 clusters. Together with colleagues, she has deciphered many intricate properties of solid-state hydrates and the molecular scale properties of ice's surface and in aqueous solutions. Buch, for example, discovered from simulations that proton stabilization near the water surface water leads to a surface-localized acidic layer.  
Buch divided her time between cutting-edge science and humanitarian work, fighting for human rights causes, especially helping the Palestinian population in the Judea and Samaria area.
She died of cancer on June 21, 2009. 


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