In Memory of Prof. Jaroslav Silhanek. Personal notes from Paul Peters, Director EMEA Sales, CAS
Paul Peters, Director EMEA Sales, CAS
Ing. Jaroslav Silhanek, CSc. was a strong ambassador for proving the best information tools to the Czech scientific community stretching well beyond his own university, the ICT in Prague (now University of Chemistry and Technology, Prague – UCT Prague). He had a close contact to CAS and I am privileged and honored to have worked with him for so many years.
We probably met at one of the CAS Conferences that were held every other year in the mid 1990’s and early 2000’s. My first visit to ICT in Prague was in the spring of 1999. At that time, ICT Prague subscribed to our printed products and also had adopted the CA on CD product that came out in 1996. Prior to that Jaroslav performed searches in CAS databases on STN.
Jaroslav published his first article on chemical information tools in 1992 in Chemicky Prumysl with the English title “What is the price of chemical and chemical engineering information?” He and his assistant Mgr. Ludmila Zetkova, would stay close to publishers of chemical information and finds ways to form a consortium to purchase these tools ever since.
In 2000 Jaroslav invited me to give a talk at the 52th Congress of the Czech and Slovak Chemical Societies in Ceske Budejovice. The talk of CAS and SciFinder introduced the Czech and Slovak community to the new way of searching for published information. In 2003, Jaroslav and I went around all the Czech Universities to do training sessions for SciFinder to the various students. From the usage of SciFinder it was clear that the students of ICT Prague had the great advantage of having such a dedicated teacher of chemical information. Still today the SciFinder usage at ICT Prague is the largest from the universities in Central Europe and is in the top 25 in Europe.
Jaroslav published an extensive article on the 100 years of CAS in Chem Listy (2007), 101, p593-628, which described the transformation of CAS as a publisher of books to an organization to provide tools for chemists and other scientists. Jaroslav does give his concluding remark on the future of CAS with the question if universities can continue to afford SciFinder with the price of covering the enormous amount of information in SciFinder to produce this tool. The question is certainly relevant today and in the next decades.
Since 2008, I have hired Mr. Veli-Pekka Hyttinen from Finland as the regional manager for Central and Eastern Europe and Veli-Pekka also developed a friendly and personal relationship with Jaroslav. On Nov 28th in 2008 we had a special meeting in Prague with speeches and gifts to recognize Jaroslav’s contribution to the chemical information field.
In September 2013, we celebrated with Jaroslav and all his colleagues in Pardubice, the first 5-year consortium agreement signed in Europe at that time for the regional Czech universities. Using special funding by the EU he had secured availability of SciFinder for the near future.
The last time I met Jaroslav was at the ICIC conference in Heidelberg. We had a passionate discussion about chemical information and the various providers in the industry. I am very grateful to have worked with Jaroslav Silhanek for so many years and have learned so much from him. We will all miss you.