Oktay Sinanoğlu (25 February 1935 – 19 April 2015) was an internationally renowned Turkish physical chemist and molecular biophysicist.
Sinanoğlu was born in Bari, Italy on February 25, 1935 to Nüzhet Haşim and Rüveyde (Karacabey) Sinanoğlu. His father was a consular official under the Consul General Atıf Kor in the Bari Consulate of Turkey, and a writer. He wrote a book on Greek and Roman Mythology, and another one titled "Petrarca", published in 1931, stating in its preface: "The best way (for Turkey) is adopting the Western culture." Following his father's recall to Turkey in July 1938, the family returned to Turkey before the start of World War II. He had a sister, Esin Afşar (1936-2011), who became a well-known singer and actress.
Sinanoğlu graduated from TED Ankara Koleji in 1951. He went to the United States in 1953, where he studied in University of California, Berkeley graduating with a BSc degree with highest honors in 1956. The following year, he completed his MSc at MIT (1957), and was awarded Sloan Research Fellowship. He completed his predoctoral fellowship (1958-1959) and earned his PhD in physical chemistry (1959-1960) from the University of California, Berkeley.
On December 21, 1963, Oktay Sinanoğlu married to Paula Armbruster, who was doing graduate work at Yale University. The wedding ceremony took place in the Branford College Chapel of Yale.
He remarried to Dilek Sinanoğlu and from this marriage he became father of twins. The family resided in the Emerald Lakes neighborhood of Fort Lauderdale, Texas and in Istanbul, Turkey.
In 1960, Sinanoğlu joined the Yale faculty. He was appointed full professor of chemistry on July 1, 1963. At age 28, he became the youngest full professor in Yale’s 20th-century history. It is believed that he was the third-youngest full professor in the 300-plus year history of Yale University.
In 1964, he founded the theoretical chemistry division at Yale. During his tenure at Yale, he developed the "Many Electron Theory of Atoms and Molecules" (1961), "Solvophobic Theory" (1964), "Network Theory of Coupled Chemical Reactions" (1974), "Microthermodynamic surface tension"(1981), and "Valency Interaction Formula Theory" (1983). He developed a revolutionary method called "Sinanoğlu Made Simple" from his own mathematical theories and published in 1988. With the help of this research system, and using simple pictures, chemists could predict the ways in which complex chemical reactions would proceed, and solve complex problems in quantum chemistry. After 37 years on the Yale faculty, Sinanoğlu retired in 1997. During his time at Yale, Sinanoğlu served as a frequent consultant to several Turkish universities and to the Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey (TÜBİTAK) as well as to the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS). In 1962, the Board of Trustees of Middle East Technical University in Ankara dignified him with the title "consulting professor", for the first time and unique only for him.
He received the "TÜBİTAK Science Award" for chemistry in 1966, the "Alexander von Humboldt Research Award" in chemistry in 1973, and the "International Outstanding Scientist Award of Japan" in 1975. Sinanoğlu was also a two-time nominee for Nobel Prize in Chemistry.
After his retirement from Yale, Sinanoğlu was appointed to the chemistry department of Yıldız Technical University in Istanbul, serving until 2002.
Sinanoğlu was author or co-author of many scientific books and articles. He also authored books on contemporary affairs in Turkey, and Turkish language such as "Target Turkey" and "Bye Bye Turkish" (2005).
A 2001-published best-seller book about his life and works, edited by Turkish writer Emine Çaykara, titled him The Turkish Einstein, Oktay Sinanoglu (Turkish: Türk Aynştaynı Oktay Sinanoğlu Kitabı).
His wife Dilek Sinanoğlu made public on April 10, 2015 that Oktay Sinanoğlu was hospitalized in Miami, Florida, and was taken into intensive care unit in coma. According to the posting, it was assumed that nutrition reached his lungs from feeding tube during his stay in a nursing home. He died at age 80 on April 19, 2015. No medical statement was released about the cause of the death.
He is survived by his first wife, Paula Armbruster, son Karacabey Levni Sinanoğlu, daughter Elif Sinanoğlu Armbruster, son Murat Armbruster, His wife Dilek Sinanoğlu, twins Oya and Alper Sinanoğlu, grandson Ayuka Wilhelm Sinanoğlu and granddaughter Mary Elizabeth Cochrane.
His body was transferred to Turkey. A memorial service was held at Caddebostan Cultural Center in Kadıköy, Istanbul on April 26 attended by his wife Dilek Sinanoğlu, twin children Oya and Alper Sinanoğlu as well as his son from the first marriage, Karacabey Levni Sinanoğlu. He was laid to rest in Karacaahmet Cemetery, Üsküdar following the religious funeral service at Şakirin Mosque.