Emil Racovita


Emil Racovita (1868-1947) Romanian biologist, president of Romania Academy; on Amundsen's Belgica on its cruise to the Antarctic continent.


1868: Emil Racovita is born in Iasi on the 15th of November. He spent his childhood at Soranesti, Vaslui County, in the family estate. He is educated in Iasi under the guidance of professor and writer Ion Creanga and after wards he continues high school at "Institutele Unite", where he learns the basics of natural sciences from Grigore Cobalcescu.
1891: Following his father's wish he attended Law School in Paris, but following his own vocation he graduated from the Faculty of Science in Sorbonne where he learned zoology with an excelent professor, Henri de Lacaze-Duthiers. After his graduation in 1891.
1896: He obtained a remarkable doctor degree, which made him well known among European scientists.
1897: As a recognition of his scientific merits, he is selected to participate as a biologist in the Belgium Antarctic Expedition (1897-1899) on board the "Belgica", headed by Adrien de Gerlache. He accomplished his mission brilliantly, coming back with a collection of 1,600 botanical and zoological specimens. Soon after he returned he published a consistent work about Cetacea.
1900: On November 1st Emil Racovita is appointed assistant-director of the oceanological laboratory "Arago" from Banyuls-sur-Mer
1901: He becomes joint manager of the review "Achieves de Zoologie experimentale et generale" also a creation of that erudite scientist.
1904: Following the discovery of a new species of cave crustaceans in the famous Cueva del Drach on the island of Majorca Racovita gives up his oceanological researchers and fully devoted him to the biological study of the subterranean realm.
1907: He published "Essai sur les problems biospeologiques" which is considered to be the birth certificate of biospeleology (cave biology) as an independent science. At the same time he initiated an extensive international research program called "Biospeologica" (primarily intending to document and collect cave fauna).
1920: Volunteers to get involved himself in the organization of the Romanian University of Cluj returned to his native country and founded in the capital of Transylvania the world's first Speleological Institute.
- The two decades spent by Racovita in Cluj until the beginning of the war are characterized by an extraordinary diversification of his offices. He is a senator (representing the University of Cluj) in 1922-1926, Rector of the University of Cluj (1929-1930), president of the Romanian Academy of Sciences (1926-1929), Director of the Speleological Institute (1920-1947), and member of various scientific associations. His contributions to the study of isopode crustaceans and his advocacy campains for the protection of the environment are remarkable. The climax of his scientific career is the elaboration of an original theory on evolution.
1940: In August the Vienna Dictate forces the Faculty of Sciences and, together with it, the Speleological Institute to take refuge in Timisoara. During four long years, the scientific activity ceases altogether.
1947: Immediately after his return in Cluj, Emil Racovita strived to reorganize his institute. On the 17th of November the great scientist dies.

In addition to scientific papers, he published articles on the organisation of education and of scientific research. Main works: "Essai sur les problems biospeologiques" (1907), "Speleology" (1927), "Evolution and its Problems" (1929).