Richard, Felix E
Felix E. Richard 1915 (Switzerland) - 1984 (Switzerland)
Felix Richard did his basic training in forestry engineering (1935-1939) and obtained his PhD degree in soil science under Hans Pallmann in 1946, both at at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) Zurich. He worked at ETH as a research assistant in Agricultural Chemistry until 1949. His stay in the United States (1951/52) had a great impact on his career and on his understanding of soil research. He introduced soil physics in Switzerland and contributed substantially to the development of this discipline in Europe. On returning to Switzerland he worked as Soil Scientist and head of a research group on Ecological Site Research at WSL-EAFV. He was then appointed as Honorary Professor at ETH in 1962, as Extraordinary Professor in 1966 and became full Professor of Soil Physics at ETH in 1973.
With great enthusiasm and tremendous energy he was progressing steadily toward a better and more quantitative knowledge of field soil properties and processes, especially of the water regime in forest soils. His first large-scale field experiment, instrumented with hundreds of tensiometers and othere related equipment, was initiated as early as 1964. In doing this, he focused on the heterogeneity of field soils and the variability of field measured data, a controversial and relevant aspect of today's soil physical research.
He explored and documented systematically the physical properties of field soils. He was almost addicted to tackling technically difficult field problems. His expertise in soil physical experimentation is widely known and left its traces in many field experiments all over the world. He was one of the original editorial board of the journal Geoderma.
He was a devoted teacher. His sense of humor and good temper, his down to earth attitude and the ability to motivate and to demonstrate the practical relevance of his approach to soil science will be remembrered by a large number of students.
Taken from obituary by Hannes Flühler in Geoderma, 35: 67, 1985.