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Gennady Zinovjev (1941 – 2021)

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Professor 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 fifty years, Genna, as he was known to most of his friends, made phenomenal 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.  Professor Zinovjev 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 and was one of the founding members of the ALICE collaboration at CERN.

Born on 18 April 1941 in the city of Birobidzhan (Russian Far East), in 1963 he graduated from Dnepropetrovsk State University, a branch of Moscow State University named after M. V. Lomonosov. From 1964 to 1967, he studied at the graduate school of the Laboratory of Theoretical Physics of JINR. From 1967 to 1968 he was a researcher at the Institute of Mathematics and Computer Science of the Academy of Sciences of the Moldavian SSR (Chisinau). He was awarded the title of Doctor of Physics and Mathematics in 1975 at the Dubna Laboratory of Theoretical Physics (now Bogolyubov Laboratory of Theoretical Physics).  He then joined the Kiev Institute for Theoretical Physics (now 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. In 2008, he was awarded the Prize of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine named after A.S. Davydov, before becoming a member of the National Academy in 2012.

In the mid-1990s, he 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 ALICE – both the 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 talents, both experimentalists and theorists, who received a rigorous education in Kiev and spread from there to many places all over the world. Many of us in the heavy-ion physics community owe him a great deal.

We express our deepest condolences to Professor Zinovjev’s family and his colleagues and friends at the Bogolyubov Institute for Theoretical Physics and the Kharkiv Scientific Research Technological Institute of Instrument Engineering. We will always remember him for his charismatic personality, great kindness, openness and generosity. 

 The ALICE collaboration