In Memoriam - Marko Branica (1931-2004)

Marko Branica, internationally renowned marine chemist and former Director of the Center for Marine and Environmental Research of the Rudjer Boskovic Institute in Zagreb, Croatia, died at the age of 73 on 17 November 2004.

Professor Marko Branica

Professor Marko Branica was closely associated with CIESM for more than a quarter of a century. For many years, during several mandates, he led the destiny of the CIESM Chemical Oceanography Committee. In this capacity he helped initiate and streamline important research in the Mediterranean region, involving the study of biogeochemical cycles of trace metals in the marine environment. For the past 12 years, following the accession of Croatia to independence, Marko Branica served as National Representative of his country on CIESM Board. In 1998, Marko was a major force (as chairman of the National organizing committee) accounting to the resounding success of the 35th CIESM Congress in Dubrovnik/ Cavtat. We fondly remember our various explorations with him along the beautiful Dalmatian coast, testing not only various logistic options but tasting the local wines and mussels as well: behind the imposing academic figure was a generous man, full of humour and life. He was a friend.


Marko Branica was educated at the University of Zagreb, where he received his PhD in chemistry in 1963. He spent his entire career at the Rudjer Boskovic Institute in Zagreb, where he was one of the co-founders of the Center for Marine and Environmental Research, established in the early '70s. During this period Marko also conceived and launched an interdisciplinary postgraduate course in Oceanography, which eventually led more than 200 students to graduate with an MSc degree in Oceanography. Under the aegis of CIESM, Marko Branica convened a series of International Symposia entitled "Chemistry of the Mediterranean". Starting in 1970, fourteen conferences were held in Croatia, attracting numerous members of various CIESM committees who returned regularly. These meetings came to be regarded as "summer schools of chemical oceanography". Indeed several special volumes of the journal Marine Chemistry devoted to the conference and featuring benchmark papers were published.

As a scientist, Marko was a pioneer in the application of electrochemical methods in marine research, especially to the analysis and speciation of trace elements in various compartments of the marine environment. His research was widely recognized by the international scientific community, and he received the 1992 Heineken Prize for the Environment, awarded by the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Marko left a distinct mark on most of the things he did in science and life. He will be missed by numerous friends in various corners of the Mediterranean Sea and much beyond.

(by Goran Kniewald and Frédéric Briand)