Basil Vincent "Vince" McKoy, emeritus professor of theoretical chemistry, died on November 2. He was 82.
McKoy, who was born on March 25, 1938, earned his bachelor of science degree at Nova Scotia Technical University in 1960 and his doctorate at Yale in 1964. He joined Caltech as Noyes Research Instructor in Chemistry in 1964, became assistant professor of theoretical chemistry in 1967, an associate professor in 1969, and a full professor in 1975.
Along with William Goddard, the Charles and Mary Ferkel Professor of Chemistry, Materials Science, and Applied Physics, and the late Aron Kuppermann, professor of chemical physics, emeritus, McKoy pioneered the use of computers in chemistry at Caltech, with McKoy renting time on a CDC 6600, which debuted in 1964 and is considered one of the first super computers.
Work he conducted in the 1960s led him to focus on quantum scattering theory, a field of study that seeks to understand how waves and particles scatter after a collision. For the rest of his career, he continued to study collisions between particles, later focusing on how electrons affect large biomolecules like DNA when they collide with them. Such collisions play a role in DNA damage that causes cancer and cell death, and thus have implications for health and medicine as well as in treatments for cancer. McKoy's research sought to understand the mechanisms at work in these collisions.
He was named an Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Fellow from 1969 to 1971, and received a Guggenheim Fellowship for Natural Sciences in 1972. He became a fellow of the American Physical Society in 1982
McKoy became an emeritus faculty member in 2016. He is survived by his wife, Anne McKoy.
A full memorial story will follow at a later date.