Instrumental in founding IMB in 1959, Dr. Kasha worked tirelessly during his career to promote interdisciplinary and collaborative research among scientists with expertise in different areas. His interest was in creating a place for faculty and students to explore the cutting edge of research in a state-of-the-art facility, which continues today at FSU and serves as a model for the development of other interdisciplinary programs. In 2001 the building that houses the Institute of Molecular Biophysics was renamed the Kasha Laboratory Building. The Institute continues to thrive and build on the foundations of the original vision.
Dr. Kasha earned his Ph.D. at the University of California, Berkeley (1945), under the mentorship of Dr. Gilbert Lewis, well known for the discovery of the covalent bond and his concept of electron pairs. Lewis dot structures and other contributions to valence bond theory have shaped modern theories of chemical bonding. Lewis contributed to the advancement of scientific knowledge of thermodynamics, photochemistry, and isotope separation, and is also known for his concept of acids and bases.
A leader in the civil rights movement and a community activist, Dr. Kasha was a leader in guiding numerous members of the FSU faculty to put up bail money for Florida A&M and Florida State University students who were arrested in 1963 for picketing the Florida Theater. A vocal advocate for the southside and westside, he spoke against the widening Capital Circle near the chain of lakes and stood in opposition to planting of invasive species and pollution near Lake Bradford.
The research in Dr. Kasha’s molecular spectroscopy laboratory was instrumental in the discovery and elucidation of excitation mechanisms, with particular application to photochemical and biophysical problems. Some of his most important achievements include identifying triplet states as source of phosphorescence emission, his work on singlet molecular oxygen, and formulating the Kasha rule on fluorescence. The Kasha rule was first proposed by Dr. Kasha in 1950 and is now accepted as a general scientific principle, with only a few rare exceptions found over the years. In 1971 Dr. Kasha joined a select group of scientists when he was elected to the National Academy of Sciences.
He led a long and illustrious research career with many adventures along the way, including a 30-year long collaboration with Richard Schneider, a master builder of traditional classical guitars. This led to a new design that became known as the Kasha Guitar. In his spare time, Dr. Kasha spent many years searching for a way to hybridize a truly blue daylily. He published a book in 1978 about his efforts called “The Elusive Blue Daylily,” which remains elusive to this day.
Dr. Kasha died in Tallahassee, FL on June 12, 2013 at the age of 92.