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Farewell to Adel A. Kader: a great scientist, a great man

Adel A. Kader, Emeritus Professor of Postharvest Physiology at Davis University (California, USA) passed away last Monday (10 December) at the age of 71.

HortiDaily & FreshPlaza sends its expressions of condolence for this death, and asked Professor Giancarlo Colelli (University of Foggia, Italy), who knew very well Kader, to write a eulogy.

In memory of Adel A. Kader: great scientist, great man
With great regret I have heard of Kader’s death due to a heart attack, which happened last Monday at the San Francisco airport while he was coming back from South Africa for a work travel.

I met him in 1989 when I started to work in his lab, attended his courses at the Department of Pomology. At that time, the University of Davis was the reference for the postharvest sector par excellence. Kader was the undisputed leader of a research team that has reached high levels of knowledge in the different disciplines; he was a reference for researchers, enterprises and international institutes.

Adel A. Kader (right) with Giancarlo Colelli.

Kader was born in Egypt and he concluded his University education and training in California in the 60s. After a brief period in his native-born country, in the 70's he came back to Davis, where he worked for 38 years in postharvest biology and technology to maintain the nutritional and organoleptic quality of fresh produce.

He was author of more than 230 scientific publications in ISI Journal and he was the most cited author by the postharvest colleagues. He was also the author of ‘Postharvest Technology of Horticultural crops’ book, of which three editions were published and tens of thousands of copies were sold from 1985 to 2002. He was the creator and the editor of website UC Davis Postharvest Technology, which is currently visited by over 250,000 people per month.

Adel A. Kader during the 5th European Course on ‘Quality and safety of fresh-cut produce’ in Berlin from 6 to 8 February 2012..

Kader was the author and the manager (for many years) of ‘Postharvest technology Short Course’, which is addressed to the International Fresh Produce Enterprises interested in postharvest produce. This course has been running for over 30 years with over 2500 participants in 33 editions, I myself attended the course in 1989.

He cooperated with international organizations, such as FAO and ONU, government programs, such as USAID, foundations, such as Gates Foundation; he worked with many countries, such as Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Syria, Iraq, India, Lebanon, Mexico, Turkey, Morocco, Ghana, Sudan, Philippines, Thailand, Malaysia, China, and others. During his University career, he trained 36 Ph.d students and over 60 post doctoral researchers coming from all over the world.

After an agriculture degree and military service, I worked with Kader from 1989 to 1990 and I remember that he was a strict and exacting professor, he was very careful in his work and in his colleagues, students and assistants work. The great intelligence, qualification, organization, precision, punctuality were his work tools that let him to reach extraordinary scientific results. In the mean time, he was a very helpful person in the actions and in the relations with people.

From the end of 90's, I started to work with him as a colleague thanks to projects of international cooperation on students exchange and on the scientific research dissemination. My assistants and students were lucky to appreciate his great scientific qualifications and his kindness when they were in California or when Kader was in Italy.

Adel A. Kader during the 4th European Course on fresh-cut produce occurred in Mesagne (Apulia Region, Italy) on 2010.

I was honored to be invited to his retirement ceremony at Davis University on 2008. On that occasion, I told about his enthusiasm in teaching and in sharing his knowledge with the others without frontiers and without self-interests. I told when he was near to 70 years old, how he gave together with few colleagues a series of seminars in one week in Spain, Italy and Greece. He met many people, institutions and organizations and he did it for nothing, but only for sharing his research experience and findings with the others.

Adel A. Kader during a workshop in Foggia on 2009.

Finally, I'd like to remember his intellectual integrity and his way of discussing and interacting with colleagues and students. He was happy to share his knowledge, he had no secrets and he laughed at the colleagues that kept their research and information close. He was happy to help giving you a bibliographic reference, photos, power point presentation, publication, etc.

Last July 2012, during the International Postharvest Symposium at Kuala Lumpur, I made fun of him because he was the most requested for a photo by students and young researchers, who acknowledged him as the postharvest research leader. After many years of cooperation, I saw him more as a great colleague than as the strict professor of 1989.

In the last period, he was helping me to organize an important international conference next June in Italy (Apulia), he gave me suggestions on how to solve several critical issues. Only last Friday, I was in Italy and Kader was in South Africa, however we were in contact by skype to talk about the invited speakers.

I like to remember him as a person always willing to share his knowledge, research, projects, ideas with people.

Even if I will never contact you again by skype, you will be my Professor and my Friend for-ever.

Ciao Dr. Kader, rest in peace.

Giancarlo Colelli
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