EMIL G. RACOVITA
1868-1947

PIONEERING SCIENTIFIC ACHIEVEMENTS

Emil Racovita is the founder of the Biospeleology - "the new science of ancient mysteries from underground", as he described the new science, and of the first Speleological Institute in the world. He conducted landmark studies within the fields of zoology, oceanography, ecology, biogeography, and ethology.

SCIENCE PROMOTER

Deputy Director of the Maritime Laboratory Arago from Banyuls-sur-Mer and head of Comparative Anatomy Laboratory from Sorbonne. In 1920, he became the General Director of the Institute of Speleology from Cluj. Between 1929 and 1930 he was Rector of the University of Cluj, Romania. In 1933, he was co-opted as a Corresponding Member for the Institute of Intellectual Collaboration of the League of Nations.

SCIENTIFIC ACTIVITY

  • Emil Racovita participated as a naturalist in the Antarctic expedition, on board of the Belgica ship from August 1897 to November 1899, collecting over 1,600 biological samples.
  • In 1903, Emil Racovita published, sponsored by the Belgian government, the results of its observations regarding the whales - Cétacés. Voyage du S.Y. Belgica en 1897, 1898, 1899. The conclusions of this volume were immediately translated by the Smithsonian Institution for marine exploration and mining in the USA.
  • Emil Racovita described the principles of Biospeleology in his highly important Essai sur les Problèmes biospéologiques, 1907 (Essay on Biospeleological Issues) in the Archives de Zoologie Expérimentale et Générale.
  • After investigating over 1,000 caves in France, Spain, Slovakia, Romania, and Africa, between 1904 and 1927, together with René Jeannel, Emil Racovita published in Biospeologica, seven volumes detailing all the caves they visited - Enumération de grottes visitées.
  • Also, in Biospeologica he elaborated on his views concerning evolution, providing one of the best definitions of the concept of species and contributing significantly to the systematics and biology of the terrestrial, marine, and freshwater isopods.

HONORS AND AWARDS

  • In 1899, Emil Racovita received the “Steaua României” with the rank of an Officer from King Carol I and was appointed Member of the Romanian Society of Geography.
  • Also in 1899, he was appointed Member of the Royal Geographical Society from Antwerp and Knight of the Order of Leopold II of Belgium.
  • In 1900, he became an Honorary Member of the Society of Students from the Faculty of Sciences from Bucharest and he was awarded the title of Honorary Member of the Society of Naturalists in Romania.
  • Also in 1900, he became a Member of the Geographical Society from Paris and a Member of the Board of Directors of the Zoological Society of France. In 1901, he was appointed Member for life into the Geological Society of France.
  • In 1922 Emil Racovita received the Croix de la Légion d’Honneur and in 1928, Commandeur de la Légion d’Honneur (1927).
  • Between 1926 and 1929, Emil Racovita was President of the Romanian Academy.
  • In 1932, he became an Honorary Citizen of the city of Banyuls-sur-Mer, on the occasion of 50 years from the founding of the Arago Laboratory.
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“Emil Racovita can be considered the greatest Romanian biologist of all times; he is part of the category of the great biologists of the world. He can be considered the biologist who undertook the first researches of the Antarctic fauna and flora; the biologist who made light in the world of darkness, being the founder of Biospeology; he is the biologist who perfectly understood the role of the environment in human evolution. He is the scientist who militated for the protection of nature and launched an alarm signal on imbalances provoked by man in nature, Homo sapiens being the only species that is considered above nature and endangering it.

Emil Racovita, the explorer of Antarctica, the founder of Biospeology as a science, and of the first Institute of Speleology in the world, the researcher who made scientific investigations in over 1,000 caves, the former President of the Romanian Academy, remains a living example to follow in what concerns the answer to the call of the motherland in moments of necessity.”

Gheorghe Mustata, Professor Emeritus, Al.I.Cuza University, Iasi

PIERRE-ALFRED CHAPPUIS
1891-1960

PIONEERING SCIENTIFIC ACHIEVEMENTS

Co-discoverer of the Karaman-Chappuis drilling method, widely used nowadays for subterranean aquatic fauna sampling.

SCIENCE PROMOTER

In 1922, Pierre-Alfred Chappuis is named Deputy Director at the Institute of Speleology and appointed Lecturer at the Cluj University. As Honorary Consul of Switzerland in Cluj, he was able to remain to oversee the Institute of Speleology under the Hungarian occupation (1940-1945) following the Vienna Diktat. Only due to Chappuis Racovita was able to find the Institute intact upon his return from his refuge in Timisoara. And only as a result of Chappuis’s efforts Racovita’s significant monograph concerning the genus Stenasellus was published, in 1950.

SCIENTIFIC ACTIVITY

  • Chappuis published 160 significant fundamental works on the subterranean aquatic fauna and the methods for their study.
  • He studied a wide range of Crustacea from the fauna of the subterranean waters: Bathynellacea, Isopoda (Asellota and Microcerberoidea), Mystacocarida and especially Copepoda Harpacticoida.
  • In 1929, he contributed to Enumération des grottes visitées 1918-1927.
  • After Emil Racovita’s death, the eighth series of Enumération des grottes visitées 1927-1949 was published, in 1951, by Pierre-Alfred Chappuis and René Jeannel.
  • He participated in five international expeditions.

HONORS AND AWARDS

In Romania, Pierre-Alfred Chappuis received the distinction Knight of the Order “Steaua Romaniei” and in France, the distinctions Officier de la Légion d’Honneur and Palmes Académiques.


RENÉ JEANNEL
1879-1965

PIONEERING SCIENTIFIC ACHIEVEMENTS

For ten years, French entomologist René Jeannel gave the lecture „Cours de Biologie générale, l’Evolution et l’Hérédité” for the students of the Science Faculty and Medicine Faculty in Cluj, Romania. This was the first lecture of General Biology in the Romanian universities and was translated in Romanian by Valeriu Puscariu, an assistant at the Institute of Speleology.

SCIENCE PROMOTER

In 1920, he accepted Racovita’s offer to move to Cluj, where he was appointed Professor of General Biology at the Cluj University and Deputy Director of the Institute of Speleology. Jeannel endorses Biogeography as a historical and not a static science - his studies led him to paleogeographic reconstructions in which he argued Wegener’s continental drift, in a period when this hypothesis was generally opposed. He achieved an ample, global image of the history of the continental faunas based on paleogeographic hypotheses supported at present by new discoveries.

SCIENTIFIC ACTIVITY

  • He organized numerous speleological expeditions in Apuseni Mountains and the Southern Carpathians; he studied and described a high number of cavernicolous Coleoptera.
  • The entomological work of Jeannel is immense, including 511 publications summing over 20,000 printed pages, including an impressive series of monographs dedicated to ten coleopteran taxa.
  • He participated in three international expeditions, including one in Antarctica.
  • Between 1931 and 1952, Jeannel was the Director of the Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle in Paris.

HONORS AND AWARDS

  • René Jeannel received many distinctions: in Romania, he received the Order „Teaching Merits” granted by the Ministry of Education (1930); in 1928, at the proposal of Racoviţă, he was elected a Corresponding Member of the Romanian Academy, while in 1956, he was elected as an Honorary Member.
  • France awarded him the titles of Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur (1923), Officier de la Légion d’Honneur (1935), Commandeur de la Légion d’Honneur (1951).

CONSTANTIN MOTAS
1891–1980

PIONEERING SCIENTIFIC ACHIEVEMENTS

In 1957, Constantin Motas moved forward the field of Limnology by developing a new branch – Phreatobiology - dealing with the research of the subterranean aquatic environment and associated fauna in unconsolidated sediments near rivers.

SCIENCE PROMOTER

Constantin Motas was the Director of the Natural History Museum in Iasi and also the Director of the Grigore Antipa Natural History Museum in Bucharest. He was a Professor of Applied Zoology and Entomology in Chisinau. In 1956, he was appointed Director of the newly-established Emil Racovita Institute of Speleology (ERIS) in Bucharest, while reviving the Cluj branch.

SCIENTIFIC ACTIVITY

  • He made significant contributions to the taxonomy, biology, and biogeography of water mites worldwide describing hundreds of new taxa.
  • Constantin Motas published significant fundamental and applied works on the hydrobiology, fish-farming and entomology, and the methods related to their study.
  • He was a member of four international scientific societies and in the editorial board of several important international publications.

HONORS AND AWARDS

In 1937, he was elected a Corresponding Member of the Romanian Academy at the recommendation of Emil Racovita, and in 1948 he became a full member.


TRAIAN ORGHIDAN
1917-1985

PIONEERING SCIENTIFIC ACHIEVEMENTS

In 1955, based on his research on the interstitial underground water in the river valleys, Traian Orghidan described and established the scientific term "hyporheic biotope".

SCIENCE PROMOTER

Prof. Traian Orghidan, together with Prof. Margareta Dumitrescu, guided and attracted the students to the study of the subterranean domain, students that will establish the Institute of Speleology. In 1956, with Prof. Constantin Motaş, Prof. Margareta Dumitrescu, and Dr. J. Tanasachi, he revived the Romanian Speleology through a reorganization of the Emil Racovita Institute of Speleology (ERIS). Between 1956 and 1964, Traian Orghidan was Deputy Director of the Institute of Speleology, and since 1964 he was full Director. In this position, he had a prodigious scientific activity on caves and karst regions.

SCIENTIFIC ACTIVITY

  • Professor Orghidan published, alone or in collaboration, more than 100 scientific papers in various fields (speleology, systematics, zoology, ecology, and paleontology) and several monographs.
  • He discovered a great number of taxa new for science, described by him or other specialists.
  • He was editor of seven important publications.
  • Prof. Traian Orghidan participated in nine international speleological expeditions.
  • He was a member of six international scientific societies and also a founding member of the “Les Amis d’Enesco” Association

HONORS AND AWARDS

Prof. Traian Orghidan was awarded the medals Order of Work (3rd class) in 1964 and Scientific Merit (1975); the Academic Prize Emil Racovita (1969); the Gold Medal of the University of Olomouc (Czechoslovakia, 1973); and the Medal 20th Anniversary of Cuba (1973).

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