Kent State chemistry department and patent-holding professor dies

Holli Phillips

Students and faculty of the chemistry and biochemistry department at Kent State are grieving the death of researcher and professor Anatoly Khitrin.

Khitrin, 62, passed away due to cancer and heart related problems earlier this week.

Calling hours for Khitrin begin Sunday from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m., followed by a service until 5 p.m. at Bissler Funeral Home in Kent.

Khitrin’s coworkers said it was a pleasure to work with him.

“I worked with him for 15 years, and he was such a wonderful man,” said Erin Michael-McLaughlin, the chemistry department program coordinator. “He had a very dry sense of humor and was one of the most intelligent men I have ever met.”

Songping Huang, a chemistry and biochemistry professor, said he worked very closely with Khitrin and cherished the relationship they had.

“I remember he once told me this story as to why he shouldn’t quit smoking, and it was very funny,” Huang said. “It was ‘a spanish man decided when he was 113 to stop smoking because he was getting old, and he died two years later.’ This is why Anatoly wouldn’t quit; He was very optimistic and funny.”

Huang and Khitrin also hold two patents that Kent State is recognized for.

“He was a very smart scientist, and one day I told him of this realization I had with Prussian blue pigment,” Huang said. “He and I tested this pigment to be used in MRIs instead of toxic metal Gadolinium, and we proved that it worked. Now we share a patent over this discovery.”

Robert Twieg, a chemistry and biochemistry professor, knew Khitrin the entire time he worked for Kent State and said he was a friendly and intelligent man.

“Khitrin was an expert on nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy,” Twieg said. “People may argue that he was the smartest man in the chemistry department. He understood the quantum universe better than anyone employed in our department. His intelligence and kindness will be missed.”

Holli Phillips is the health and wellness reporter. Contact her at [email protected]u.