History - Prof Harold Linnartz and Sackler Laboratory for Astrophysics

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History

Sackler Lab
The Laboratory for Astrophysics at Leiden Observatory was the first of its kind in the world. In 1975 the Laboratory was founded by Mayo Greenberg. He demonstrated the importance of accurate laboratory data to guide and interpret astronomical observations. Prof. Greenberg has been in charge of the laboratory for nearly a quarter century and was involved in the ongoing research until far after his retirement. Many well known scientists have been working under his supervision; Profs. d'Hendecourt, Ehrenfreund, Tielens, and Allamandola. Today, the Sackler Laboratory for Astrophysics is still a unique facility where astronomers, physicists and chemists meet and work together to simulate and understand inter- and circumstellar processes. Fingerprint spectra of molecular species of astrophysical interest are recorded, both in the gas phase and in the solid state, and solid state reaction pathways, both of rather small and complex molecules are studied using state-of-the-art experimental setups.
Nearly 30 PhD thesis's were completed in the Sackler Laboratory. With roughly 500 scientific publications the laboratory has substantially contributed to the understanding of the physics and chemistry of inter- and circumstellar processes.

Mayo Greenberg has been in charge of the laboratory up to his retirement in 1992 after which Ewine van Dishoeck has been formally leading the laboratory until 2004. In this period much of the daily work was taken care of by Willem Schutte and Pascale Ehrenfreund. Stephan Schlemmer (now Cologne) has been heading the group for a short period after 2004. Since 2005 Harold Linnartz is in charge of the Raymond and Beverly Sackler Laboratory for Astrophysics. Under his supervision the laboratory has been expanding. With eight specialized setups, research is nowadays performed with a focus on transient species of astrophysical interest as well as the spectroscopy of interstellar ices and fundamental properties of atom and photon induced processes in interstellar ice analogues. The laboratory has moved into the center of a number of large astrochemistry networks, specifically LASSIE, a 6.05 MEuro FP7 ITN project on solid state astrochemistry, DAN, the Dutch Astrochemistry Network, and in 2009 Prof. Linnartz was awarded a 1.5 MEuro VICI grant to further 'Unlock the Chemistry of the Heavens'. The laboratory benefits much from scientific collaborations with other astrochemists - Profs. Tielens and van Dishoeck - who are very actively supporting ongoing research. 

In 2014 the astrobiology lab group of Prof. Ehrenfreund has joined the group. This now allows to perform research at the border lines of chemistry and biology, ultimately with the aim to answer the question how life came to Earth.
The laboratory has strongly benefitted from a generous grant provided in 1997 by Dr. Raymond R. Sackler and his wife, Beverly, who are international philanthropists with a deep longstanding commitment to support scientific research. Many of the results achieved in the period 1997-2007 have only become accessible because of funding by the Sacklers. This is why the laboratory proudly carries their name. In 2008 they donated a travel grant, supporting exchange visits between the US/Israel and Leiden. 

As a thank you, Leiden Observatory has given Asteroid 7690 the name 'Sackler'. In 2004, Mr. Sackler received from the Dutch queen the title 'Officier in de Orde van Oranje Nassau', in honour of his numerous efforts to support society.

The laboratory has benefitted from ongoing support by the Greenberg family. Naomi Greenberg has donated a large sum to the laboratory to support research visits of young scientists from developing countries to the Sackler Laboratory. Meanwhile several fellowships have been realized and in the near future. It is with sadness that we recently learned that Ms. Greenberg passed away in August 2015.
 
 
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