in memoriam - Prof. Pál Stefanovits (1920-2016)
By Erika Michéli, past president, Hungarian Soil Science Society
The Hungarian Soil Science Society was sad to learn that the honorary president of the society, Pál Stefanovits, passed away on 4th August, 2016.
Pál Stefanovits was a professor emeritus of Szent István Univetsity, Gödöllő, Hungary, he was a member of the Hungarian, the Ukrainian, the German and the Austrian Academy of Sciences, and mentor of many active Hungarian soil scientists and an internationally highly respected pedologist, who took part in several international mapping projects.
Pál Stefanovits was born on 24th November 1920 in Kassa. After graduating as chemist from the Budapest József Nádor Technical University in 1942 he started his soil survey work in the Hungarian Geological Institute and later in 1949 the Research Institute of Soil Science and Agricultural Chemistry of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences. His teaching career started in 1965 in Gödöllő. The current generation of soil scientists in Hungary grew up with his concepts and text books. Pál Stefanovits coordinated the development of the genetic soil classification system of Hungary, which served as basis for most mapping activities in the past 5 decades.
His major international contribution was to the development the FAO-UNESCO World Soil Map (1975) and the Soil Map of the Danube Countries (Bodenkarte der Donauländer, 1985).
His participation in correlation meeting and field activities exposed him to the diagnostic approach in soil classification that he shared with and introduced to his students. His scientific lectures on soil genesis and classification he delivered in several languages (English, French, German, Russian, Slovak and Hungarian) which brought a broad scientific network and respect to the Hungarian soil science community.
Pál Stefanovits lived 95 years. With the death of Pál Stefanovits we lost one of the giants of soil science, but his concepts and memory will stay with us.