Borys Paton, a Ukrainian engineer who chaired the country’s National Academy of Sciences for over five decades, has died in Kyiv at 101.
“Metallurgist, engineer, inventor, scholar, lecturer,” President Volodymyr Zelensky said of Paton in an official statement released on Aug. 19, shortly after the academic’s death. “The first persons to be decorated with the Hero of Ukraine title, academician, genius, legend… There are no words that could fully describe the scale of his personality.”
Paton had lead the Academy of Sciences since 1962 and had produced over 1,000 scientific works, including 20 monographs and 400 patented inventions, mostly in the fields of materials sciences and welding. Since 2017, he was the world’s oldest chairman of a national academy of science.
Born in Kyiv in 1918 to Yevhen Paton, a renowned engineer, Borys Paton studied engineering at the Kyiv Polytecnic Institute and defended his doctoral dissertation in 1952. That same year he also joined the Communist Party of the Soviet Union.
From 1953, he was the direct of the Yevhen Paton Institute of Electric Welding. After being elected to head the Ukrainian Academy of Sciences in 1962, he was repeatedly re-elected to the post.
Despite his scientific accomplishments, Paton also faced criticism for his work at the helm of the scientific institution — particularly later in his tenure. Critics accused him of extreme conservatism in running the academy, a lack of transparency and openly taking sides in politics.
Due to his old age, Paton finally abstained from proposing his candidacy for another term as academy chairman in April 2020.
The Paton Bridge, which crosses the Dnipro River in Kyiv, is named after his father, who designed it.
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