It is with heavy hearts that we announce the passing of Dan Petrescu on Sunday, October 3rd, 2021. Dan was born in 1991 in Germany but raised in France. He left Europe for the United States in 2009 to pursue his education. Dan studied for his B.A. in Chemistry from 2009-2013 at Boston University. He then went on to obtain his M.A in Physical and Biophysical Chemistry at Boston University from 2013-2015. From 2015 on, he was a PhD candidate under the supervision of Professors Amy Blum and Mark Andrews at the Department of Chemistry, McGill University.
Dan’s research at McGill focused on 2 areas of nano-optical properties derived from biomatter. The first explored self-assembly to generate metamaterials from the Tobacco mosaic virus. Metamaterials describe a class of materials whose properties arise from the interaction of electromagnetic waves with the sub-wavelength sized component structures or ‘meta’-atoms that constitute them. Dan used the virus proteins to control the positions of metal nanoparticles with the sub-nanometer precision these ‘meta’-atoms require. His second research area focused on elucidating ways in which the nano-patterned silica shells of species of phytoplankton behave as sophisticated optical devices for photon harvesting and intercellular optical communication. Dan wanted to understand how nanophotonic biosilica might be implicated in the metabolic re-routing of CO2 into atmospheric oxygen, valuable metabolites, and inform designs for new kinds of optical devices.
Dan was a passionate and dedicated educator. He joined the Tomlinson Project in University-Level Science Education (TPULSE) in Fall 2016 and started working towards improving science education at McGill. Dan was involved with training graduate student teaching assistants and hundreds of Tomlinson Engagement Award for Mentoring (TEAM) fellows. He was also working on scholarship of teaching and learning projects. Dan became the lead fellow at TPULSE and helped with the integration of fellows into the Office of Science Education (OSE). At OSE, Dan was working towards bringing inquiry guided learning into chemistry labs and starting a speaker series. Dan’s memory will be cherished at OSE and TPULSE.
Dan’s memory was honoured at the department on Monday, October 4th where many who knew him gathered to pay their respects. Dan’s passing will be sincerely and deeply felt by the department and all those who knew him.
Dan will receive his PhD posthumously.