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European Geosciences Union

Fiorenzo Cesare Ugolini

Fiorenzo Cesare Ugolini
Fiorenzo Cesare Ugolini

The 2009 Philippe Duchaufour Medal is awarded to Fiorenzo Cesare Ugolini for his outstanding research in the field of soil science, with special emphasis on his contributions to soil genesis and soil forming processes undergoing in the polar environment.

Fiorenzo C. Ugolini is internationally recognized for his great contributions to understanding processes undergoing in polar environment, which have had a great impact on the development of soil science.

Professor Ugolini was born in Florence, Italy, in 1929. In 1954 he received a scholarship from Rutgers University, USA, where he completed Ph.D. He held position of assistant professor at Rutgers University, and continued his research as associate professor at Ohio State University, and professor at University of Washington. In 1990 he returned to Italy to the University of Florence, where he is still very active as emeritus professor.
Throughout the 50 years of his scientific activity, professor Ugolini published a big number of articles in renowned journals, including Nature and Science, greatly contributing to the understanding of soil forming process, especially podzolization. He introduced the concept of “Dynamic Pedology” that involves the collection, analysis and interpretation of the soil solution for assessing the contemporaneity of pedogenic processes, and proposed the “Proton Donor Theory” to explain major pedogenetic processes. He provided the direct evidence of particle migration in podzols, indicating dimension, shape, and composition of transported material. He proved that protoimogolite is not migrating from the E horizon, hence, rendering the “imogolite theory”. He documented the presence of unfrozen interfacial films of water in frozen Antarctic soils, enabling to explain ionic migration and weathering under the extreme cold and xeric conditions of continental Antarctica. He indicated the role of podzolization in the formation of peatland in S.E. Alaska, and the contemporaneity of podzolization in the Alaska at 69° north. Results of his research pointed out to soil formation processes predicted by catastrophic events.

He participated to 25 polar expeditions in: Antarctica, Canadian and Alaskan arctic, Svalbards, west Siberia, and north east Greenland. In recognition of his scientific achievements, one of the mounts in Antarctica (78° 1’ S, 161° 31’E) was named Ugolini Peak.

As emeritus professor, Fiorenzo Ugolini interacts with students and faculty, and participates in several research projects and lecturing. One special trait of Fiorenzo Ugolini is his vital energy, contagious enthusiasm for science, and the ability to inspire students for pursuing goals even under such trying conditions as those in Polar Regions.