Marko Branica has been awarded the .Dr A.H. Heineken Prize for Environmental Sciences 1992 in recognition of his pioneering research in the chemical analysis of various metal contaminants in the environment. He has had a decisive impact on environmental policy in the Mediterranean.
As a young scientist at the Rudjer Boskovic Institute, Professor Branica helped develop methods of tracking uranium and related elements in the environment. Building on his previous research, he went on to the chemical analysis of various metal contaminants, such as copper, lead, cadmium and zinc. Branica's work led to a breakthrough in the field of environmental chemistry: for the first time, low concentrations of metals in small volumes of fresh and sea water could be determined, thus forming the basis for research on metals in the food chain. The laureate's innovative methods have also made it possible to distinguish between the various inorganic and organic forms in which metals occur, such as free metals (which are absorbed by organisms) and complex metals (which are not).
Branica is known for bringing together young scientists from different countries. Since 1961 he has organised scientific meetings biennially, the results of which have been published in special editions of scientific journals. These meetings have influenced aquatic environmental chemistry significantly.
About the laureate
Marko Branica was born in Zagreb, Croatia, in 1931. He studied physical chemistry at the University of Zagreb, where he earned the doctorate in physical chemistry in 1963. Since 1954 he has been associated with the Rudjer Boskovic Institute in Zagreb, of which he was made scientific advisor in 1970. At the University of Zagreb he has held professorships in the Faculty of Natural Sciences and, since 1976, the College of Chemical Engineering.
Branica has devoted much of his time to international advisory and organisational activities. Among other things, he has chaired the Organising Committee of the International Symposia on Chemistry of the Mediterranean. In addition, he belonged to various scientific committees and to the editorial boards of several scientific journals.
He has also stimulated progress in the field of environmental management, especially in the Mediterranean. As a result of regulations drafted at the Barcelona Conference - in which all of the Mediterranean countries participated - metal contaminants in the Mediterranean have been monitored under the auspices of the United Nations Environmental Program and the Conseil International pour l'Exploration Scientifique de la Méditerranée. This led to the construction of sewage treatment plants in a number of countries.
Marko Branica passed away on 17 November 2004.