On 13 October, one BOKU honorary citizenship and two BOKU honorary doctorates were awarded in the ceremonial hall of the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences Vienna. "We have come together today to honour outstanding personalities, namely - as it says in the statutes of BOKU - personalities who have rendered outstanding services to our university and to the promotion of its scientific and cultural tasks over many years," said Rector Eva Schulev-Steindl in front of the honorary citizens and the guests who had come.
Schulev-Steindl continued: "Today we are awarding honorary citizenship of BOKU to Professor Nzula Kitaka. She has a long and varied connection to BOKU and is Vice-President of Africa-Uninet. That Austrian-African research network, which was initiated to create a long-term, and stable basis for cooperation between Austrian and African universities and research institutions."
In his laudation, Andreas Melcher from the BOKU Institute for Development Research highlighted Professor Kitaka's tireless commitment to promoting international students. She is also one of the founders of the Joint Degree Master Programme "Limnology and Wetland Management", which is run in partnership between Egerton University, UNESCO-IHE (NL) and BOKU. "The award of honorary citizenship is the first of its kind for a colleague from Africa and contributes significantly to internationalisation and cooperation between universities."
Nzula Kitaka is Professor of Aquatic and Water Science at Egerton University, Kenya. As Director of the Board of Postgraduate Studies, she has been involved in international cooperation in numerous university committees. Currently, she is vice-president and representative of her university in the Austria-Africa-UniNet, a scientific network of 47 African and 24 Austrian universities and research institutions, in which BOKU also plays a leading role.
Honorary doctorates were then awarded to Professor Herbert Hurka of the University of Osnabrück and Professor Ino Curik of the University of Zagreb.
"Both are distinguished not only by their outstanding scientific work," said Rector Schulev-Steindl, "but also by their close ties to BOKU."
Laudator Karl-Georg Bernhardt from the Institute of Botany praised Prof. Hurka as a valuable advisor and supporter - not only in the creation of the "BOKU gene seed bank of endangered wild plant populations in Austria", but also through the donation of his personal herbarium of over 10,000 specimens to the university. "For this major donation, his long and continuing research activity and his input to our systematic research, we sincerely thank Herbert Hurka with an honorary doctorate."
Hurka was a full professor of special botany in the Department of Biology at the University of Osnabrück. As founder and director of the Botanical Garden, he created focal collections, a herbarium and a gene seed bank for wild plants. His research focused on cruciferous plants (Brassicaceae) and he wrote numerous papers on their evolution, phylogeny, systematics and biogeography.
Laudator Johann Sölkner (Institute of Farm Animal Sciences) was pleased to award Prof. Ino Curik with an honorary doctorate from BOKU: "We have been working closely together for more than 25 years and have born and implemented many scientific ideas. Ino Curik seeks and finds extraordinary ways to solve supposedly simple genetic problems - thank you for that and the wonderful time together!"
Curik is a full professor of animal breeding and genetics at the University of Zagreb. Major topics of his scientific career are genetic diversity and inbreeding - with work on Lipizzaners through Austrian cattle to rabbits in Hungary. He is the founder of the laboratory for archeogenetics at his institute as well as a driving force behind the "Animal Science Days", the annual conference for farm animal science.