On June 9th, 2020, our colleague and Honorary Member of the International Humic Substances Society (IHSS) Dr. Morris Schnitzer passed away at the age of 98 at Hillel Lodge in Ottawa.
Morris Schnitzer was one of the pioneers in our knowledge and understanding of bulk soil organic matter and humic substances, their composition, chemistry, physical reactivity and the role in agriculture. His scientific contribution and impact (i.e., several books and >400 research papers) is highly appreciated by the whole scientific community. Of equal importance is his contribution as mentor and teacher for a generation of young researchers in soil organic matter and humic substances. His friends and co-workers remember him as a wonderful person, besides as a curious, intellectually alert and enthusiastic scientist. He has been an important driver for the work of numerous scientists and for the whole soil science community.
His contribution to IHSS is paramount; in 1981, he was one of the founders of the IHSS and contributed with the extraction of one of the standard humic acid samples from leonardite. In appreciation to his personality and work, the IHSS awarded him the Honorary Membership in 1986 and published his biography in 2003 in the Newsletter 28 and on our web.
Due to his enormous contribution in soil research and his high appreciation in the scientific community, Morris Schnitzer was awarded with several honors; Fellowships by the Canadian Society of Soil Science (1971), Soil Science Society of America (1977), American Society of Agronomy (1977), and Royal Society of Canada (1991). He received the Soil Science Award of the Soil Science Society of America in 1984, the Soil Science Distinguished Service Award of the Soil Science Society of America in 1995 and was co-winner of the Wolf Prize in Agriculture in 1995/96.
Today’s researchers working on humic substances and soil organic matter often may discover that part of the research they are doing now was already carried out by him five decades ago and, even without the state-of-the-art equipment we have the possibility to use today, results are extremely similar. Morris Schnitzer and his research will be in our mind, we will always treasure his memory.
Yiannis Deligiannakis, Gudrun Abbt-Braun, Claudio Zaccone
on behalf of the board of the IHSS