(The following text has been provided by Prof. Dr. Peter Ruckenbauer, Department of Plant Breeding, Institut for Agrobiotechnology (IFA), Tulln,Austria)
The Board of EUCARPIA decided on the 6th of September 2004 with common consent to propose Professor H. Hänsel as Honorary Member to the general assembly of the XVII Congress. This distinction was then fully supported by acclamation.
This rare award is given exeptionally to personalities with an outstanding lifework in the field of plant breeding or plant breeding research. E.v. Tschermak-Seysenegg, the Austrian rediscoverer of the Mendelian laws was the first person who received this award in 1956, six more followed up to this XVIIth Congress 2004, the last one was given 1989 in Göttingen to Prof. Bojanowski from Poland.
Hermann Hänsel is Austrian, born in Vienna in 1918, started his professional career after studying languages and finally agriculture at the University of Agricultural Sciences (Bodenkultur) in Vienna and terminated these studies with a PhD in plant breeding in 1948. After several post-doctoral studies in Cambridge/UK and Wageningen/NL he decided to work as a practical plant breeder in the Probstdorfer Saatzucht, located in the cereal growing area east of Vienna in Lower Austria.
Breeding winter wheat, spring durum and barley became his passion, but plant breeding science still remained his love... So he never lost contact to his former University and received in 1954 a D.Sc. promotion as a lecturer and later as an external professor of plant breeding science. For more than 33 years he offered lectures of specific topics such as mutation breeding, breeding methodology and developmental physiology of cereals species. Hänsel and received several calls for University chairs and research institutions -Hohenheim, Göttingen, Cologne and Bukarest- but he faithfully remained in his home country and realized outstanding achievements as a cereal breeder and scientist. To all his students, colleagues and agronomists he represents the rare personified combination between a successful breeder and a highly acknowledged scientist.
His successful scientific lifework consists of more than 140 peer-reviewed papers cited world wide. The spectrum of his experimental results comprises an impressive range of fields, from mutation initiation, developmental and yield physiology until breeding methodology and inventing new breeding methods, such as his “Intercross method” for self-pollinating cereal species. The importance of his scientific contribution towards plant breeding sciences was more than scientifically underlined by his outstanding result in the breeding of cereal varieties. More than 55 varieties, among them a dozen of Central European importance, are a lifework which seeks her kind! In wheat breeding he was able to combine -even for our dry cereal growing areas- high yielding performance with superior baking qualities in varieties such as Probstdorfer Extrem, Perlo and finally Capo, his last top performer! Some of his varieties covered sometimes 75 % of the wheat production areas in Austria of about 225.000 hectares. His spring barley Adora and Viva combined excellent yield stabilities with durable resistances; in durum wheat breeding his varieties are cultivated now in Italy, France and Spain. No other breeder personality has dominated for the last 45 years the Austrian breeding scenery to such extent as H. Hänsel.
Above all that he remained a silent and humble men, his physical endurance in the breeding nurseries the year round and in all weather conditions, his self discipline and straight forwardness are still shining examples for all of us EUCARPIA members.
Many awards and decorations accompanied his life work, in 1977 he received the highest award Austria can give to his scientists. But his varieties have been and are the basis of our welfare in agricultural production. Some see his success in his ability to scrutinize targeted crosses to an extreme extend, but others a man, blessed with the famous “breeders eye” .All participants of this XVIIth Congress are thankful and happy to have such personalitynow as an Honoray Member within their Association for Research in Plant Breeding-EUCARPIA. We wish him for the future health and happiness and god's blessing! Ad multos annos Hermann Hänsel !