Water and Light In memory of Karl Norris


Contribution from Roumiana Tsenkova



For all of us, the NIR community, Karl was like water and light. We felt comfortable in his presence, relaxed and with great respect. We learned a lot from him and his attitude taught us to be like him. His questions and comments were the light into the invisible NIR light that led us towards opening new venues and unexplored worlds.


My gratitude to him is beyond any description! In my memory, there is a moment which I will always remember. At the NIRS International Conference held in Korea in 2001, for the first time, I presented something that caught my attention when analyzing real time spectral data of prion proteins isomers and I wanted to check if the phenomenon has been caused by water.

At the conference I presented my results that the water spectra change after each measurement, and showed that these small changes in absorbance (stable microscopic changes of absorbance) have information about the number of the measurements, the time and the solvent.

After the talk, Karl came to me and said: “Very well done! If you subtract the spectrum of water from the spectrum of protein solution, you will never see the spectrum of protein. Water is interesting.” This gave me the courage to continue working in this direction and to introduce Aquaphotomics and name it as a new -omics discipline at the International NIR Conference in New Zealand in 2005. Since than Aquaphotomics has grown and this year we planned our 4th International Conference on Aquaphotomics to be held in Kobe, Japan.

Karl was not only an engineer; he was full of curiosity, a constant learner and a discoverer. We were all so pleased when he was awarded the honorary doctor degree from Wilson College (see picture from the ceremony). He really deserved it! And he was really happy to receive it! Karl and his wife Maxine were very kind and friendly. They have invited me to stay with them when I attended Chambersburg meetings. I have been touched by the fact that “the great Karl Norris” would come to pick me up from the airport whenever I visited them and especially at his age in the last years. We have had numerous conversations about everything: life, science, friendship.

Karl Norris will be always the LIGHT among us, in our memories and hearts!

Peace be with you!


Prof. Roumiana Tsenkova, Dr. Eng., Dr. Agr.

Kobe, May 16, 2020