Obituary for Professor Morgan de Dapper (1947-2023)

Dear colleagues,

We learnt with great sadness that our colleague and friend Morgan De Dapper passed away. He was a full honorary member of the Classe des Sciences Naturelles et Médicales (Class of Natural and Medical Sciences) from the Belgium Académie Royale des Sciences d’Outre-Mer (Royal Academy of Overseas Sciences), geographer, geomorphologist, former Secretary General of the International Association of Geomorphologists and founder of the IAG Working Group ‘Geoarchaeology’.

Born in Deinze (Belgium) on the 17th of July 1947, he passed away there on the 17th of November 2023.
He began his scientific journey in Greece when he was still a student, with the Pharos scientific expedition; but his PhD study field was in the Katanga province, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (former Zaïre, Africa). He spent his entire career in the Rijksuniversiteit Gent (Gand University) to which, as a Flamand and lecturer, he was deeply attached. He started working on his thesis there as an intern, in the Laboratorium voor Fysische Aardrijkskunde en Regionale Bodemkunde (Laboratory of Physical Geography and Regional Pedology). He then became Assistant, First Assistant and Project Officer in the same laboratory. Morgan De Dapper obtained his PhD in Geography in 1978, and became a lecturer on the 1st of October 1991 in the Laboratoire de Géographie Physique (Laboratory of Physical Geography, which name changed for ‘Geography Department’ in 1993). He was appointed Professor in 2002, Full Professor in 2008, and Professor Emeritus in 2012.

Morgan De Dapper was elected Associated Member of the Belgium Section des Sciences Naturelles et Médicales from the Académie Royale des Sciences d’Outre-Mer on the 4th of September 1989, promoted Full Member on the 30th of April 1993, and finally reached the status of Honorary Member in 2012. He was the head of his Section from 2005 to 2013, and the head of the whole Académie in 2005.

His research mainly focused on regional geomorphology and geoarchaeology in tropical and Mediterranean regions – with particular attention drawn to less-favoured countries. He worked in Portugal, Spain, Italy, Greece, Türkiye (Anatolia), Syria, the Palestinian territories, Jordan, Bahrein, Iran, Egypt (Nil delta and Upper Egypt), Soudan (Nubia), Yemen (Socotra Island), Morocco, Tunisia, Cameroon, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Zimbabwe, Madagascar, Malaysia, Vietnam, Brazil, and Chile (Easter Island). He founded the IAG Working Group ‘Geoarchaeology’ in 1995, of which he has been President and Vice-President. He was also President of the Association Belge des Géomorphologues (Belgian Association of Geomorphologists), Vice-President of the Société Belge de Géographie (Belgian Society for Geography Studies), member of the editorial board of BELGEO (the Belgian geography journal), member of the National Committee for Quaternary Studies from the Académie Royale des Sciences de Belgique. Morgan De Dapper was also member and former President (2005) of the Académie Royale des Sciences de Belgique, where he was also President of the Commission sur le Développement et l’Environnement (Commission for Development and Environment).

He had strong convictions, was highly committed to the collective, and was a man of great scientific and human generosity. He was a driving force for the IAG, which he helped to found in 1989. For his commitment in the IAG, rare in terms of continuity and strength, and also for his international reputation and scientific influence, I had the great pleasure to award him the title of IAG Honorary Fellowship in Delhi in 2017 – the highest distinction of the Association.
With unwavering support for less-developed countries, he did his best to help the emergence and visibility of young African and Eastern European researchers. When I was the President of the Groupe Français de Géomorphologie (French Geomorphology Group), I remember of his support for Belgium to join Italy and France in developing a scientific network with young Romanian researchers.
Beyond our scientific collaborations, we developed strong ties of friendship. His overflowing activity would not have been possible without the support of his loving family. We lost a friend and colleague. Our thoughts are with his beloved wife and family.

Eric Fouache
Professor – UFR de Géographie et Aménagement
Sorbonne Université
UR Médiations Sciences des Lieux, Sciences des Liens
Senior Honorary Member of the IUF
Former IAG President (2013-2017)