Tribute to Azerbaijani scientist, Yusif Mammadaliyev

By Peter Tase

Every year on December 31st, the global community of scientists celebrates the birthday of a great Azerbaijani academician and former Chairman of the National Academy of Sciences of Azerbaijan SSR, Yusif Haydar oglu Mammadaliyev. He was born in the historic city of Ordubad in the Autonomous Republic of Nakhchivan (Azerbaijan) on December 31st, 1905. Mammadaliyev (Azerbaijani language: Yusif Heydər oğlu Məmmədəliyev) was a Doctor of Chemistry and academician of the National Academy of Sciences, an institution in which he was elected president on two different occasions: 1947–1950 and 1958–1961.

In 1923, Mammadaliyev entered the higher Pedagogical Institute of Baku. In 1926, after successfuly graduating from this institution he became a teacher at the secondary school for 3 years. In 1929 he became a second-year student of the Faculty of Chemistry at the Moscow State University, from which he graduated in 1932. He was one of the students of N. D. Zelinsky and A. A. Balandin and one of the first seniors of the laboratory of organic chemistry of the Faculty of Organic Chemistry Department under the specialty of “organocatalysis”. Upon completing his studies in Moscow, he continued to stay in Moscow and worked at the chemical plant No.1, and then was transferred to Azerbaijan, where he managed the Department of Organic Chemistry of the Agricultural University of Azerbaijan. Then he worked (1933–1945) at the Azerbaijan Research Institute of Oil, where he became the manager of laboratory. It was in this laboratory where the discovery of a great talent had taken place. Most of his contributions were dedicated to the scientific problems of petro chemistry and organocatalysis research and in the field of Organic Chemistry. Mammadaliyev has been closely associated with Azerbaijan’s development of domestic industry of oil-refining and petrochemical industry. Some of these developments were embraced as the basis of new industrial processes.

Beginning in 1934, he led the great pedagogical work at Azerbaijan University named after S. M. Kirov, successively holding the positions of associate professor, professor, and head of department and as its rector (1954–1958). In 1933, Yusif Mammadaliyev became a Candidate of Chemical Sciences and received a University Degree in Chemistry.

In 1942, he became Doctor of Chemistry and in 1943 became a university professor.  In 1945, he was elected as an academician of the Academy of Sciences of the Azerbaijan SSR (since its early establishment in 1945). He was the director of the Oil Institute of the Azerbaijan SSR. In 1946, Mammadaliyev was nominated to work in the Ministry of Oil Industry of the USSR, where he became the chairman of scientific-technical council of that ministry. In 1951-1954, Azerbaijan’s renowned chemist became an academician-secretary of physics, chemistry and oil departments of the Academy of Sciences of the Azerbaijan SSR. In 1954-1958 he was elected as the rector of Azerbaijan State University.

In 1947-1951 and 1958-1961 Yusif Mammadaliyev was elected as the president of the Academy of Sciences of the Azerbaijan SSR. He was the founder of the Institute of Petrochemical Processes in Baku.

The main scientific research and published works of Yusif Mammadaliyev are related to catalytic progressing of petroleum and other hydrocarbons. He is the founder of petro chemistry in Azerbaijan. He suggested new methods of chlorination and bromination of different hydrocarbons with the use of catalysts and especially showed the ways of obtaining carbon tetrachloride, chloromethane, dichloromethane and other valuable products by means of chlorination of methane, initially in stationary catalysts and then in hot layer. He has conducted research in various spheres including catalytic alkylation of aromatic, paraffinic, naphthenic hydrocarbons with the help of unsaturated hydrocarbons. All this research has enabled the synthesis of the aviation fuel components on industrial scale. The major works were executed in the sphere of catalytic aromatization of benzene fraction of Baku oil, obtaining washing agents, flint-organic compounds, production of plastics from pyrolized products and other contributions. Mammadaliyev was a mentor to the first generation of chemical engineers of Azerbaijan.  He has represented Azerbaijan in numerous congresses, conventions and symposiums held in the USSR, the USA, Italy, France, and England, the MDR, the PRP and other countries.

The formation of Azerbaijani Astrophysical Observatory, Fund of Manuscripts and academic papers, Sumgait Scientific Center of Chemistry and other scientific institutions of Azerbaijan are related to the name of Yusif Mammadaliyev. The school of petro chemistry of Azerbaijan founded by Mammadaliyev has gained a great reputation not only in Azerbaijan but also in the world stage. A town named after Yusif Mammadaliyev was established near the Shamakhi Astrophysical Observatory (Pirgulu).  Yusif Mammadaliyev is the author of more than 200 scientific works and 6 monographs.

In 1958, Yusif Mammadaliyev was chosen as a corresponding member of the Academy of Sciences of the Azerbaijan SSR. He was honored with many governmental medals and awards. The Order of Lenin, the highest state award, was presented to him during the Great Patriotic War for active work in support of the war front with important petrochemical products and inventions.  Y. H. Mammadaliyev died on December 15, 1961.


Sources of information of Wikipedia were used to write this article

* Special thanks to journalist Hasan Pashali for providing additional information


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Peter Tase

Peter Tase is a contributor, freelance journalist and a research scholar of International Affairs, Paraguayan Studies, Middle East Studies and Latin American Affairs, located in the United States. Educated at the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee and Marquette University Les Aspin Center for Government; Tase is the author of “Simultaneous Dictionary in Five Languages: Guarani, English, Italian, Albanian and Spanish” and “El Dr. FEDERICO FRANCO y Su Mandato Presidencial en la Historia del Paraguay.” He’s a frequent contributor to Foreign Policy News. His personal website is

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