In Memoriam Em. Prof. Georges Stoops (1937-2022)


Em. Prof. Dr. G. StoopsGeorges Stoops, Professor Emeritus at the Faculty of Sciences of Ghent University in Belgium, and Honorary President of the Belgian Soil Science Society, passed away suddenly on 20 January 2022 at the age of 84, during a vacation with his family in the South of Spain. Georges was an excellent soil scientist of international standing, belonging to a generation of great soil micro-morphologists. His outstanding activities contributed considerably to the development and worldwide use of thin section observations in soil studies.

Georges was born on 12 August 1937 in Antwerp, Belgium. He studied Geology at Ghent University, where he also obtained a PhD degree in Geology, in 1966, with a dissertation about soil development in the Bas-Congo region of the DR Congo. Georges began his professional career with a fellowship of the Belgian Institute for Encouragement of Scientific Research Overseas (BIBWOO). During that period, he participated in the first geopedological mission to the Galápagos Islands, organized by Prof. Dr. René Tavernier and sponsored by the Charles Darwin Foundation, Ghent University, the Soil Survey Centre (Ghent), BIBWOO and the National Fund for Scientific Research (NFWO). The soils of the Galápagos Islands would continue to fascinate Georges up to the end of his life. From 1962 till 1967 he was assistant lecturer at the Faculty of Agronomy of the Lovanium University in Kinshasa, DR Congo, where he began the mineralogical and micromorphological study of soils and weathering profiles that would become the subject of this PhD dissertation. In 1968 he was appointed at Ghent University, where he would teach courses on mineralogy and micropedology until he retired. He became Full Professor in 1987, and Emeritus Professor in 2002. During this tenure as professor, he was Director of the Laboratory for Mineralogy, Petrology and Micropedology. He was also the first Chairman of the Department of Geology and Soil Science (1993-2001), and Director of the International Training Centre for Post-Graduate Soil Scientists (ITC) (1989-2001). Georges was well respected by his peers, as well as by the many generations of MSc and PhD students, coming from all over the world, who knew him as lecturer or thesis supervisor.

Throughout his career, Georges had a strong interest in development cooperation. He was actively involved in several university cooperation projects, in Africa (Congo, Egypt, Rwanda, Tunisia, Zambia, Zimbabwe), Asia (Indonesia, Iraq, Malaysia, Syria), and South America (Ecuador, Mexico, Suriname). He also frequently acted as guest lecturer for micromorphology courses at various universities (e.g., Bahia Blanca, Barcelona, Bratislava, Granada, Lleida, Tunis). He was a member of the Steering Committee of Development Cooperation of the Flemish Interuniversity Council (VLIR-UOS), of which he was Vice-President in 1999-2002. As researcher with extensive overseas experience, he was also very active within the Royal Academy of Overseas Sciences of Belgium, of which he became a member in 1988, followed by terms as Director of the Section of Natural and Medical Sciences (1995, 1998) and as President of the Academy (1999).