In Memoriam

Publicado on Lun, 06 Mar 2017, 19:29

                                Prof. Dr Jens-Georg Unger

The international plant health community mourns the passing of Prof. Dr Jens-Georg Unger, Director of the Institute for National and International Plant Health at the Federal Research Centre for Cultivated Plants (Julius Kühn-Institut) in Germany. “Jens” as he was generally known to friends and colleagues alike died suddenly and unexpected on the 28th of February 2017 in his home near Braunschweig, Germany.

Jens, an alumnus of the University of Göttingen, where he also obtained his Dr agr. sc. in 1989, started his plant health career at the Federal Biological Research Institute (BBA) for Agriculture and Forestry in Braunschweig. He was appointed as its Head of Plant Health in 1991. Over a period of 26 years he had an unprecedented impact on the development of plant health science and policies in Europe and beyond. He represented Germany in the EPPO Working Party for Phytosanitary Regulations since 1991. His expertise in different EPPO Panels was a sought commodity. As one of the founding fathers of the international plant health research coordination network, EUPHRESCO, and a member of the Scientific Network on Pest Risk Analysis of the European Food Safety Agency (EFSA) Jens contributed substantially to improve the scientific basis of European plant health legislation. His participation at countless meetings of EU Commission working groups, committees or Council working groups shaped EU plant health policy and legislation significantly.

Enthusiasm is one of the greatest assets one can possess. Jens possessed plenty of enthusiasm and it made him one of the leading individuals in the international plant health arena. He influenced markedly the revision of the IPPC in 1995 - 1997. His contribution to IPPC standard setting for the last 25 years had been vast. As one of the first European members in the Standards Committee, Jens set standards for successful work in standard setting. Between 1995 and 2016 Jens participated at almost 60 IPPC meetings. His membership in and participation at the EPPO Panel on CPM Affaires and the EPPO/NAPPO IPPC coordination group ensured that European positions on IPPC matters were scientifically based and well-coordinated with international counterparts.

Jens’s passing leaves a void in plant health in Germany, Europe and the world. We suddenly have to manage without his expert knowledge and his understanding and without his empathy and friendliness. There is so much he could still have done!

Cicero, the famous Roman orator and statesman once said:”the life of the dead is placed in the memory of the living”. Accordingly and for the international plant health community, its memory of Jens as an expert, as a colleague and as a friend will pay tribute to an outstanding professional life in plant health and will keep his picture young and vivid in our minds. The quintessence of a fulfilled human life, however, is not only expressed in its important achievements, such as how many standards have been adopted or policies developed. It is mainly expressed in our equilibrium with the people around us and our devotion to simple and unselfish acts of kindness and affection. In this spirit our thoughts and wishes must be directed at his family and team which lost a loving father, caring family member or compassionate colleague and who are suffering most from this sudden and tragic loss.

Jens has gone too early. He was only 61 years of age, and he did not have the opportunity to play his last act and to reach the crown of his life - old age. Sadly, his body did not possess the strength or will of his intellect.

Rest in peace Jens!

Ralf Lopian

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