Obituary Professor Luc Daels (Emeritus Professor at the Geography Department)


Professor Luc Daels, emeritus professor at the Faculty of Science, passed away at home in Ghent on 23 July 2021. Luc Daels was born in Ghent on 22 May 1929. He studied geography at the State University of Ghent (licentiate, 1953). After being a teacher for a number of years at the Royal Atheneum Berchem and the Royal Atheneum Brussels, he was appointed assistant at the RUG in 1959, at the later "Seminar of Regional Geography" (Faculty of Science) with Prof. Frans Snacken as head of department. In 1963 he was promoted to Doctor of Science, Group of Geography, with a historical-geographical dissertation on the "Landscape development in and around the former Bulskampveld". On 1 June 1973 Prof. Daels was appointed associate professor at the Seminar for Regional Geography, Faculty of Science, in 1979 associate professor and in 1987 full professor. In 1988 he succeeded Prof. Frans Snacken as Director-Director of the Laboratory for Regional Geography and Landscape Studies. On 1 October 1994, he was granted emeritus status. With his doctoral thesis, Prof. Daels demonstrated the potential of aerial photography as a research tool in landscape research in Flanders. Aerial photography also became Prof. Daels' new field of interest, later extended to remote sensing with digital images from satellites and radar recordings. The Seminar grew into an internationally valued centre of expertise for the study of landscape and its name was rightly changed in 1982 to "Laboratory for Regional Geography and Landscape Studies". Aerial photography became an important part of the postgraduate course at the International Soil Science Centre in 1963. Numerous international projects followed, including a survey of the Cyclades (Greece). This resulted in years of Gents research in the region. Prof. Daels was also active in Egypt, Central Africa and the Middle East. Spurred on by Prof. Daels, the lab was one of the founding members of the European Association of Remote Sensing Laboratories (EARSeL) in Strasbourg in 1977. Thematically, Prof. Daels' research field expanded to include environmental topics such as detection of pollution and desertification. Prof. Daels was a member of the East Flanders Provincial Commission of the Royal Commission on Monuments and Sites for many years, and was active in the heritage sector, particularly in relation to the landscape. Prof. Daels initiated the multidisciplinary awareness-raising project Het Andere Landschap in 1989. For ten years, the project enjoyed great public interest with winter lectures in the Aula and landscape excursions in the spring. In 2010, his contribution to historical research was honoured with the Sarton Medal. Professor Daels was not only active in the academic world, but he was also a talented painter and, together with Walter De Buck, one of the founders of vzw Trefpunt, which took the lead in the revival of the Ghent Festivities. After his retirement Prof. Daels remained active in the cultural sector, a.o. as vice-president of the board of directors of Het Huis van Alijn. From 1988 onwards, he organised a lecture series "ontgrenzing", which for more than 10 years offered reflections on the landscape as the larger house of man.