IN MEMORIAM – GEORGES PÉDRO (1929-2018)
French Soil Science has lost one of its most prestigious members
Georges Pédro died on January 31st 2019. He was born on June 26th 1929. He had just published his last scientific study Surface Cover of the Earth’s Continental Areas (ed. AFES, 2018).
Georges Pédro is internationally renowned for his work on clay minerology and geochemical weathering processes. He was a Research Director at the INRA (France’s national institute for agronomic research) and played a vital role in France in the field of Pedology. Amongst others, he was president of the Orstom-IRD’s "Commission scientifique d’Hydrologie et Pédologie" (1984) (Scientific Commission for Hydrology and Pedology) and supervised and co-supervised numerous Orstom PhDs. It was his own exceptional thesis on experimental pedology that made him famous throughout the world: he experimentally modelled the principal global processes of soil weathering in the laboratory. Above and beyond the Orstom and the INRA, Georges Pédro played a major role in the leadership and/or presidency of a large number of scientific structures:
- 1971-1975. Groupes Français des Argiles (GFA) (French Clay Groups),
- 1982-1986. Association Française pour l’Etude du Sol (AFES) (French Association for Soil Study),
- 1989-1993. Comité scientifique du Centre de Pédologie Biologique (CPB-CNRS) (Scientific Committee of the Centre of Biological Pedology),
- 1983-1987. Groupe Sciences-Nature de l’Association Française pour l’Avancement des Sciences (AFAS) (Natural Science Group of the French Association for the Advancement of Science),
- 1987-1991. Conseil scientifique du Programme Interdisciplinaire des Recherches géodynamiques Tropicale péri-atlantique (PIRAT de l’INSU/CNRS-ORSTOM) (Scientific Council of the Interdisciplinary Programme of Geodynamic Tropical Peri-Atlantic Research).
In 1998, he presided over the Scientific Council of the International Soil Science Congress (Montpellier).
He was a remarkable teacher (1965-1995) and numerous soil scientists attended his DEA lessons in Pedology and continued on to PhD with him. With the Orstom he was part of the grand African, Brazilian, New Caledonian etc. field tours from the 1970s to 1990s.
Georges Pédro was a member of both the Academy of Science and the Academy of Agriculture. For the latter he had also been president in 1993 and then became permanent vice-secretary in 1997 and finally permanent secretary from 1998 to 2004. He was a founder member of the Academy of Technology (2000).
He received the CNRS (France’s National Research Centre) silver medal in 1980 and was Officer of the French Legion of Honour.
He was not only an exceptional scientist but also a great humanist, historian and a highly cultured and sensitive man. He took time for people. Many of us, his colleagues, feel that we have lost a great friend.
By Christian Feller and Michel Brossard
(Past-president and current president AFES)