Studia botanica hungarica

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Author(s): Buczkó, K.
Title: In memoriam József Németh (1940–2020)
Year: 2020
Volume: 51
Pages: 5-23.


Abstract: József Artúr Németh, a well-known algologist and hydrobiologist, an expert of euglenoids, the author of the Hungarian red list of algae, and also a remarkable artist, died at the close of a busy working day on 25 April 2020, at the age of 80. His professional life bound him to the Department of Botany of the Hungarian Natural History Museum, not just as a regular visitor of collections, or a co-author of the Algal flora of the Aggtelek National Park, but also as a supporter of the museum’s library. He was born on 11 January 1940 in Budapest. In his youth he was interested in geology, palaeontology, biology, chemistry and fine arts. After some hesitation he chose to study agronomy at the University of Gödöllő, Faculty of Agricultural Sciences. He worked there between 1958 and 1966 under the supervision of Tibor Hortobágyi, studying phytoplankton communities of Hungarian fishponds. After graduation he started to work at the Centre for Agricultural Research studying plants infected by phytopathogenic bacteria. Between 1970 and 1976 he worked at the General Directorate of Water Management coordinating water quality monitoring and management. He also acted as an official counsellor to help authorities make decisions on environmental issues (Authorities of the Environment, Nature and Water, Control and Monitoring Centre). His significant contribution to the spatial and time series analyses of nutrients in Lake Balaton and its catchment area was just one of his many accomplishments during this period. Besides his job he was ready to expand his knowledge, and took courses in chemistry at the Faculty of Chemical Technology and Biotechnology at the Budapest University of Technology and Economics. He graduated in chemistry as an engineer in 1973. József Németh began to work at the Water Research Institute (VITUKI) in 1976, where he participated as an algologist in all sorts of projects running at the Water Quality Laboratory. Those projects focused on Lake Balaton and its catchment area, as well as the River Danube, especially in connection with the planned Gabčíkovo–Nagymaros Waterworks. A prioritised long-term project was the inventory monitoring of the region Szigetköz along the river Danube. Changes in the structure of phytoplankton of the thermal lake at Hévíz city attracted his interest for five long years. His monitoring work on the “heat pollution” of the river Danube from the Paks Nuclear Power Plant assumed importance concerning the lifetime extension and building of new blocks of the power station. Perhaps his favourite activities were development, organisation and management of methods for water quality assessment. His retirement from VITUKI did not change his daily routine considerably. After retiring in 2000, he was employed for two extra years by VITUKI. Irrespectively of employment, he kept on working until his very last day… He is the author of five books. The first one entitled “A key for Euglenophyta occurring in Hungary” was published in 1980. 17 years later a revised, completed and updated version of the first edition was released, which contained all taxa of euglenoid flagellates that were reported from or the occurrence of which was presumed in Hungary. He was also the author of a key for Trachelomonas and Strombomonas taxa, published in 1997. A methodological book on the assessment of water quality (including chemical, biological and statistical methods) was also compiled by József Németh. Last but not least, there is the “Concepts and methods for algological monitoring of inland waters” that was co-authored by Lajos Vörös, and released in 1986. And there is his sixth, unfortunately never finished monographic floristic work, about the algal flora of protected territories of Hungary (ca 700 pages, several thousands of original, unpublished data). Despite several attempts to publishing in print, it remained a manuscript. He always wanted to improve the text, but was not able to complete it. However, this manuscript was not written in vain, as it provided the basis of the Hungarian Red List of Algae, compiled by him. József was an excellent taxonomist, a well-known specialist of the flagellate algae, the euglenoids. He was also an artist in his heart. His drawings and illustrations of algae were very precise and realistic. As an artist he used a special technique developed by himself. His paintings and drawings were central pieces of several exhibitions. We have lost a great algologist, a real expert of algae living in the natural waters of Hungary, a hard-working biologist and statistician, a friend, a husband, a father and grandfather.
Subject: in memoriam

Journal: Studia botanica hungarica
Journal abbreviation: Studia bot. hung.
ISSN: 0301-7001
Publisher: Hungarian Natural History Museum, Budapest
Editor(s): Csapó, Zs. & Pelles, G.