Jan Kroon (1937-2001)

Jan Kroon, Professor in Crystallography at Utrecht U., The Netherlands, died unexpectedly on May 3, 2001 due to heart failure. Jan was born July 18, 1937 in Oudschoonebeck and received his PhD in 1964 on a thesis entitled 'The Crystal Structures of Potassium Mesotartrate Dihydrate and Tartronic Acid' with J.M. Bijvoet. Interest in tartrates and the investigation of derivatives arose from the work of Bijvoet, Peerdeman and van Bommel on the determination of the absolute configuration of Sodium Rubidium-d-Tartrate published in 1951. Much of Jan’s subsequent work, with over 225 published papers, had its roots in his PhD work. Hydrogen bond interactions were his lifelong interest. Together with his former supervisor, Jan Kanters, and Loes Batenburg, who later became his wife, many studies were published on carboxylic acids and sugars. Jan attended and often organized regular meetings of the hydrogen-bond research community. Interest in Direct Methods, used in solving the tartronic acid structure, was shared with his colleague and friend, Henk Krabbendam (deceased 1995). Together, as members of the small theoretical Direct Methods community, they published many innovative papers. When Jan succeeded Peerdeman as head of the department in 1985, it was a typical small molecule research group with a staff having expertise in various fields. It was clear to him that in the future, (funded) challenges in crystallography would be mainly in bio-crystallography. It is here that his organizational qualities made a seamless transition possible to bio-crystallography. Through Jan’s efforts, traditional crystallography was sustained within the National Facility for Single Crystal Studies. Although Jan spent all of his scientific life in Utrecht, he developed an impressive international network that brought many postdocs to Utrecht. He always encouraged young students. We have lost a leader and a father figure who created an excellent work environment for his staff and students.

Ton Spek