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Tribute to Dr. Oleg I. Zatsarinny from Klaus Bartschat, Charlotte Froese Fischer, and Alexei N. Grum-Grzhimailo

By Charles W S Conover posted 03-26-2021 11:13

With deep sadness, we inform the scientific community that Oleg Zatsarinny, a Senior Researcher at Drake University, passed away on 2 March 2021.

Oleg Ivanovich Zatsarinny
was born in the city of Uzhgorod, Ukraine, on November 4, 1953.  He entered the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology in 1971.  After graduating with an MSc degree in 1977, Oleg obtained a position at Uzhgorod University, first in the Department of Physical and Quantum Electronics and then in Theoretical Physics.  There he specialized in calculations for atomic physics.   He obtained a PhD degree in 1985 and was soon appointed Head of the Theoretical Physics Division, Laboratory of Electron Collision Physics, Uzhgorod State University.  Upon completing and defending his DSc dissertation, he became a Senior Research Associate at the Institute of Electron Physics of the Ukrainian Academy of Science, a position he held from 1993 – 2001. 

When the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, Oleg was successful in getting support from the International Science Foundation, the European Union, and the Open Society Foundations, all of which promoted cooperation between scientists from Western Europe and the independent states of the former Soviet Union.   With that support, Oleg started a collaboration with Werner Mehlhorn at the University of Freiburg in Germany.

Because of his research in non-orthogonal orbitals, Charlotte Froese Fischer invited him to Vanderbilt University in 1997, where she introduced him to B-splines and shared her B-spline library of computer programs with him.   In May 2000, together with his wife Tatyana, Oleg immigrated to the US.  After working with Swaraj Tayal at Clark Atlanta University and Thomas Gorczyca at Western Michigan, Oleg joined the group of Klaus Bartschat at Drake University in October 2003 as a Senior Researcher.  He stayed there until the end of his life on March 2, 2021.

In 2006 Oleg published the first version of his suite of computer codes “BSR: B-spline atomic R-matrix codes”.  This program uses the R-matrix method to calculate electron–atom and electron–ion collision processes, as well as structure data (energy levels and oscillator strengths) and photoionization processes.   The latest versions of his codes are freely available at and are being preserved through the Atomic and Molecular Physics Gateway (, where the source code as well as many sample input files and run scripts for test cases are made available.   Until the very end of his life, Oleg continued to work on the programs and applied them to many cases of interest for the plasma-modeling community.   He also made his data freely available to everybody who asked individually and to the general public via the LXCat database  In the words of one of his colleagues: “Oleg did something useful!”

Oleg was awarded Fellowship in the American Physical Society in 2008.  In later years, he also became an educator.  He introduced computational physics courses into the curriculum at Drake University and trained a number of post-doctoral researchers and international visitors in the use of his package.   Oleg published over 200 papers in peer-reviewed journals, which have been cited over 5,000 times, and his data have been downloaded more than 11,000 time from LXCat.   His work will continue influencing fundamental atomic physics, as well as its many applications, for decades. 

Oleg will be sadly missed by his family and his many friends and colleagues.

Klaus Bartschat
Professor of Physics, Drake University, Des Moines, Iowa (USA)

Charlotte Froese Fischer
Affiliate Professor of Computer Science, University of British Columbia (Canada)

Alexei N. Grum-Grzhimailo
Professor of Physics, Lomonosov Moscow State University (Russia)