Science Has to Be Applied in Practice. 95th Anniversary of Prof. Romualdas Baltrušis

95th Anniversary of Prof. Romualdas Baltrušis

On 1 May, the organic chemist, KTU Professor, Habilitated Doctor of Science in Physical Sciences Romualdas Baltrušis celebrates an honourable 95th anniversary. KTU Museum congratulates the professor on the occasion of this honourable anniversary and dedicates this virtual exhibition to him.

“I have not changed my attitudes during my entire life. They have remained the same as they were shaped by the influence of my Parents and the teachers of Antanas Smetona Gymnasium in Ukmergė and based on the Christian-Catholic morality”, – the professor wrote in his book of memoirs.

Prof. R. Baltrušis was born on 1 May 1926 in Ukmergė, in the family of the Lithuanian Army volunteer, creator, teacher Stasys Baltrušis and Marija Škadauskaitė. In childhood, he suffered from bone tuberculosis and spent 5 years (from the age of 7 to 12) confined to bed. He was home-schooled by his mother and father and externally graduated from Ukmergė Model Primary School, managed by his father. Afterwards, he had many leg surgeries and had to learn to walk again. In 1945, he graduated from Antanas Smetona Gymnasium in Ukmergė and was admitted to the Faculty of Chemical Technology at Kaunas National Vytautas Magnus University (KVVDU) from which he graduated with honours in 1950. He began his research activities as a postgraduate student of Vladimir Radionov at the Mendeleev Institute of Chemical Technology in Moscow.

Founder of the School of Science in Lithuania

From 1952, R. Baltrušis continued research works at the Department of Organic Chemistry at the Faculty of Chemical Technology of Kaunas Polytechnic Institute managed by the Academic Antanas Purėnas. R. Baltrušis was researching the synthesis of β-amino acids and their derivatives. In 1954, he defended the dissertation of the candidate in chemical sciences “Synthesis and Variations of N-aril-β-amino Acids” and in 1970, the doctoral dissertation in chemical sciences (nostrified as the habilitated doctor in 1993) dedicated to the synthesis of N-aryl-, N-pyridyl, N-chinolil-β-alanines and their variations into the pyrimidine derivatives. In 1973, the title of professor was awarded to him. In 1980, R. Baltrušis was elected as the head of the Department of Organic Chemistry. He was the head of this department until 1990. Prof. R. Baltrušis developed research in several fields. In 1980, he founded the Growth Stimulants Laboratory where he gathered and led a team of scientists who synthesised approximately 1000 new organic compounds. Some of them were distinguished by bioactivity and named “stilites”. They stimulated the growth of agricultural cultures, increased the production potential; therefore, they were successfully applied in agriculture. Another research field of R. Baltrušis is the synthesis of hydrogenated pyrimidine derivatives and their application for the stabilisation of thermo-oxidative destruction of some polymers. The work of this scientist and educator was particularly successful – 130 scientific papers, 49 copyright certificates, almost 40 science promotion papers, preparation of 6 doctors of science and 2 habilitated doctors of science.

In his long years of pedagogical work, the professor gave lectures to students on the subjects of organic chemistry, bioorganic chemistry, polymer physics and chemistry, polymer chemistry, wood and cellulosic chemistry. In 1985, he won the competition of the Best Lecturer of KPI. Prof. R. Baltrušis, alone and with co-authors, prepared and published teaching methodological tools, 3 textbooks, a monograph, translated “Practical Works of Organic Chemistry” by V. Radionov in cooperation with F. Staniulis. In 1975, the Lithuanian National Prize was awarded to R. Baltrušis (and others) for the textbooks “Chemistry of High-Molecular Compounds” and “Organic Chemistry” Parts 1 and 2. In 1986, R. Baltrušis was awarded the title of honoured scientist of Lithuania. While giving lectures during the Soviet occupation, prof. R. Baltrušis found the occasions to make students pay attention to their Homeland and notice the actions of the occupants destroying the nation: he was telling the students who graduated from Vytautas Magnus University in independent Lithuania, mentioning the laboratories in the USA named after these scientists, showing them how much Lithuanians could achieve in the country was independent.

Work in Independent Lithuania

In 1989, prof. R. Baltrušis was a member of the Restoration Council and Restoration Senate of Vytautas Magnus University, in 1990–1994, he was a professor at KTU Department of Organic Chemistry. In 1999, prof. R. Baltrušis prepared and published a monograph “Synthesis, Variations and Properties of N-aryl(heterocyclic)-β-alanins”.

When Lithuania won its independence, the professor became actively involved in social activities, he wrote and published a monograph about prof. Antanas Purėnas, his memoirs “Atsiminimų pynė” (“Braid of Memories”) and fragments of his diary “Nuvilnijusios dienos” (“Days Gone By”). When facing his honourable anniversary, prof. R. Baltrušis says that science has to be applied in practice. Professor is concerned with the preservation of the Lithuanian heritage. For many years, he worked at the former Research Laboratory at the Ministry of National Defence of Lithuania which, due to its special architecture, is rightly called the pearl of modernism in Kaunas; therefore, it is particularly important to him to make sure the architecture as well as the interior of this building to be preserved. The key values of prof. R. Baltrušis – work, faith and homeland – were shaped during his studies at the Gymnasium in Ukmergė. Prof. Romualdas Baltrušis said: “I wish you to always carry the love to Lithuania in your hearts and never forget that the Homeland is the only corner on the Earth where your language, celebrations, traditions and history live and our ancestors fought and sacrificed themselves to protect and preserve them.”