It is with great sadness that we inform you of the disappearance of Robert Klapisch, founder and president of the Sharing Knowledge Foundation. He passed away in Paris on Saturday March 21st, surrounded by his three children, Coline, Cédric and Marianne, and was buried on Tuesday March 24th in the presence of his closest family only due to current restrictions.
Robert Klapisch was born in Cachan, France, on December 26, 1932. A hidden child during the Second World War because he was Jewish, he graduated from the Ecole de Physique et Chimie de Paris in 1956 and led a brilliant career as a physicist at the CNRS before joining the CERN as director of research in 1981. Having become an advisor in charge of modernizing CERN’s communication strategy under director general Carlo Rubia, he was then appointed by Jacques Chirac to the Coppens commission and chaired the French Association for the Advancement of Science until 2003. It is in this context that he initiated a North-South dialogue between European scientists and those from developing countries in Africa and the Middle East, which will lead him to create in 2006 the Sharing Knowledge Foundation. As president of the Foundation, Robert Klapisch stood out for his support of many causes, convinced that he could help create a better world through the sharing of knowledge and exchanges between people. He was a pioneer in the struggle to make the internet more accessible on the African continent, an architect from the start of regional cooperation and scientific diplomacy projects in the Middle East such as SESAME or the Red-Dead project and worked for almost 30 years to promote gender equality in science and beyond. In addition, he established a scholarship program at CERN for students from Middle Eastern countries, whom he called upon to become the leaders of development, stability and peace in the region. At the end of 2018, at over 85 years old, he founded PromoSupra, a startup which aims to develop superconductive applications for the transport of electricity, with the slogan « The Future Starts Now ».
Distinguished by numerous awards, medals, and decorations, Robert Klapisch was made an officer of the Legion of d’Honneur in 2007. He was also a knight of the Ordre des Palmes académiques, winner of the Joliot-Curie prize from the French Society of physics and of the price of the three physicists of the École normale supérieure, fellow of the Institute of Physics (Great Britain) and emeritus member of the Supervisory Board of the IASS of Potsdam.
Since the first announcement of his disappearance, we have received many expressions of gratitude from his peers, colleagues and disciples but also from people who have been touched over the years, directly or indirectly, by the work and the personality of Robert Klapisch. These tributes, too numerous to share, all underline his humanism, his generosity, his important contribution to science, his tireless will as well as his joie de vivre and the love he had for people.
We hope to be able to pay him a public tribute that can fittingly celebrate his work and legacy once the difficult health crisis we are all facing comes to an end.
We are very grateful to you, our Sharing Knowledge community, for your comforting words, support and thoughts during this difficult time.
We remain at your disposal and always available.