Professor Emeritus Kyösti Kontturi passed away in Meilahti hospital on Monday September 28 at the age of 66. Köpi - as he was known worldwide - graduated (MSc, Eng.) at HUT in 1974 and attained his doctoral degree (DSc, Eng.) in 1983 on the topic of the thermodynamics of irreversible processes. Most of his career Köpi worked at HUT, initially as an assistant, later as a senior assistant and docent of physical chemistry, until he was appointed as the professor in the beginning of 2002. He held this Chair until his retirement in November 2014.
First of all, Köpi was an active researcher: he supported a large number of post-graduates well before his nomination as the professor. He managed to arrange funding via his extensive relations to the Finnish chemical industry and European colleagues with whom several EU applications were written, five of which were successful. Professor Hubert Girault from EPFL once stated that he chose to cooperate with Köpi as he had his own ideas and did not simply follow others. Via the TEKES Drug Technology Programme in the early 1990s, a new application area for physical chemistry in pharmaceutical technology was found. Cooperation with the Pharmaceutical Faculties of the Universities of Kuopio and Helsinki continued until his retirement. For a year Köpi was a visiting scientist at the Wolfson Centre for Electrochemical Science at the University of Southampton and at Imperial College in London. Cooperation with the Heyrovský Institute of Physical Chemistry in Prague began already in 1987, and last summer Köpi received the Heyrovský medal. His publication list includes ca. 270 peer-reviewed papers, four textbooks and half a dozen patents. Köpi was a member of the Finnish Academy of Sciences and Letters, Finnish Society of Sciences and Letters, as well as proudly being a Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry for a number of years.
As a teacher Köpi followed the principal that a chemical engineer must know both chemistry and calculus. His approach to a problem was through mathematical modelling, which was his stronghold. His original method of using an electric field and convection in a porous membrane in the determination of transport quantities of macromolecules is based on elegant modelling and forms a substantial share of the textbook "Ionic Transport Processes". His method was apparently a good one as his students are in executive positions in the Finnish chemical industry or work as university professors. Köpi tutored more than 50 Master's theses and ca. 30 Doctoral theses.
Köpi came from a culturally rich home in Vaasa where literature was a particular focus since his mother, Venny Kontturi, was an accomplished writer and novelist. Literature and reading were very dear to Köpi for all his life, and after having met his wife, Annu, he also became deeply acquainted with classical music; rock'n'roll was familiar to him already in his teens when he was listening to Swedish radio from across the Gulf of Bothnia. Köpi's knowledge of rock music from the 60s' was amazing. Lately, Köpi told how he loved to listen to Schubert's lieds, such as the Winterreise cycle.
For almost 30 years, Köpi's and Annu's home was a social meeting point for the staff of the physical chemistry laboratory. On numerous occasions we gathered there for a dinner, to listen to music and talk and laugh a lot. Post-graduates received private tutoring until the small hours. Foreign guests, such as thesis opponents, were always invited if possible. Below Köpi's sturdy exterior resided an empathic and social personality that brought him many true friends.
Köpi's premature passing is an enormous shock to Annu, Eero, Kaisa and Leena, as well as to a great number of friends and colleagues in Finland and abroad.