IN MEMORIAM – TAN KIM HONG (1926 –2018)
Dr. Tan Kim Hong, also known as Kim Howard Tan passed away on April 28th, 2018 in Greensboro, Georgia, USA. Dr. Tan was a Professor Emeritus at the Department of Crops and Soil Science, University of Georgia, Athens, USA. Dr. Tan taught soil science for more than 30 years in Indonesia and USA. He was a fellow of the Soil Science Society of America and the American Society of Agronomy.
Dr. Tan was born in Jakarta, Indonesia, on March 24th, 1926. He received a master’s degree (1955) in agronomy from the University of Indonesia. He received a Ph.D. degree (1958) from University of Indonesia in pedology under the supervision of Dr. Jr. J. Van Schuylenborgh. His thesis was “On the Genesis and Classification of Soils Derived from Andesitic Volcanic Material under a Monsoon Climate”. He was the head of the Department of Soil Science and Professor at University of Indonesia from 1957 to 1967.
Dr. Tan became a Professor at the University of Georgia in 1968. At the University of Georgia, he taught basic soil science, soil chemistry, advanced soil chemistry and methodology of soil and plant analysis. He coached the Soil Judging Team of the Agronomy Department in Georgia for more than ten years. During his 28 years tenure, Dr. Tan was the recipient of numerous honors and awards for excellence in teaching. To name a few: Dr. Tan was awarded the Distinguished Faculty award by the College of Agriculture Alumni Association in 1972, the prestigious D. W. Brooks award in 1982 and the Excellence in Teaching award in 1986 by the Gamma Sigma Delta.
Dr. Tan was the author and co-author of more than 200 articles, abstracts, proceedings, and book chapters. He edited and authored 13 books. His most renowned text book is Principles of Soil Chemistry, first published in 1982 is now in its fourth edition (2010) with Taylor & Francis –CRC Press. The book is used as the main Soil Chemistry textbook in many universities around the world and has been translated to Bahasa Indonesia. According to the review published in the IUSS Bulletin: "...bridges the gap between pure chemistry and soil science and presents soil as a basic entity in a wide range of disciplines."
Dr. Tan’s research is recognized internationally, particularly on the genesis of volcanic ash soils and soil humic materials. His book on Andosol, a Hutchinson Ross Benchmark publication in 1984 was sold out as soon as it was out of the press and made him widely known as one of the authorities on Andosol. His scientific contribution published in the 1960s revealed the unique characteristics of the Andosols in Indonesia. In 2008, he published “Soils in the Humid Tropics and Monsoon Region of Indonesia.” The book was based on his knowledge and difficult-to-access Dutch archives. It is one of few English text books on Indonesian soil that interweaves new knowledge with old data. The Indonesian soil science community is indeed indebted to him for this contribution.
Dr. Tan’s humic acid research has made him one of the authorities on humic acid chemistry and organic–inorganic interaction reactions. His article published in Geoderma in 1968 revealed polysaccharide constituents in soil fulvic and humic acids. He was one of the first researchers who used FTIR in characterizing humic materials. He synthesized the knowledge in his book “Humic Matter in Soil and the Environment. Principles and Controversies”, now in its second edition (2014) published by Taylor & Francis.
After his retirement in 1995, he was invited to teach soil chemistry and environmental soil science at various universities overseas. He was a Fulbright visiting professor at the Universidad Nacional del Sur, Bahia Blanca, Argentina from 2002 to 2003. While he was at Universitas Andalas in Padang Indonesia as a visiting Professor in 1996, Dian got to know him personally. Dr. Tan was an excellent lecturer and scientist. He even helped me in the field collecting soil samples from 2 volcanoes in West Sumatra for my Ph.D. study. Accompanied by his wife Ibu (Mrs.) Yelly Tan, we explored West Sumatra for a week. They are a very nice couple, loving each other for ages. Selamat jalan Pak Tan (Good bye Dr. Tan), your legend continues with us, your students.
Rest in peace Pak Tan.
By Dian Fiantis,
Department of Soil Science, Faculty of Agriculture, Universitas Andalas, Limau Manis Campus, Padang 25163, Indonesia