Who's Donald Gabriels

Donald is an agricultural engineer from Ghent University, Belgium, and is now Emeritus Professor of the Department of Soil Management, Faculty of BioSciences Engineering of Ghent University. He holds a M.Sc. degree in Agronomy (Soil Physics) from Iowa State University, USA, and a Ph.D. in Agricultural Engineering from Ghent University. As a Fulbright Scholar, Donald was a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Agronomy Department of Purdue University, USA with the National Soil Erosion Laboratory (NSERL).

During the first years of his academic career, Donald devoted his research to soil structure assessment and soil degradation processes focusing on controlling water erosion processes. He built several laboratory and field rainfall simulators, copied and distributed in laboratories, institutes and experimental fields and projects in different countries all over the world. A few decades ago Donald also co-ordinated the construction of a building for the International Centre for Eremology (ICE) on the campus of Ghent University. The unique feature was the combination of a large wind-tunnel with a rainfall simulator. In 2008, Donald received the UNESCO Chair for Eremology (Studies on Deserts and Desertification). This complemented his teaching and research interests in soil structure, land degradation and desertification, soil physics, substrates, soil conditioning and soil amelioration, soil erosion processes and control, wind erosion, inclined rainfall, and the construction of natural and synthetic grass sports fields.

Donald is also founder and Co-Director of the ‘College on Soil Physics’, at the Abdus Salam International Center for Theoretical Physics (ICTP), Trieste, Italy, and Co-Organizer of the workshop for local farmers and their family members in Latin America, named COSWAND (Conservation of Soil and Water in Andean Countries) and ELAFIS (Escuela Latino Americana de Física de Suelos). He was the Head of the Department of Soil Management of Ghent University and Co-promotor of ‘Physical Land Resources,’ a joint M.Sc. International Programme of Ghent University and the Free University of Brussels. Donald is the author or co-author of numerous scientific and ‘less academic’ publications in journals, book chapters and proceedings of congresses, symposia and conferences. He organised and/or co-organized numerous conferences, symposia and congresses in different parts of the world and has been a consultant or leader in different projects. He has also served as guest professor, guest lecturer and keynote speaker all over the world. The last years of his ‘official’ academic career have been devoted to being a scientific expert for the UNESCO/MAB/UNU/Flanders Trust Fund Project SUMAMAD (SUstainable MAnagement of Marginal Drylands) and the UNESCO/IHP/Flanders Trust Fund Project CAZALAC (Centro para el Agua en Zonas Aridas en America Latina y el Caribe).

Besides and partly parallel with his academic career, Donald has devoted much of his leisure time to sports and coaching. A long time ago, he was an international member of the Belgian team for athletics and handball. He participated in the University World Handball Games, and served afterwards for several years as a local, regional and national coach or physical trainer of athletics, handball, football and basket ball. Now Donald is member or chairman of both local and university sports commissions. He organized and was speaker at numerous national and international sport events and sport parades, and edited and wrote articles in sports magazines and books.

Donald is coordinating the activities of an agency named GANDA PUBLI PRODUCTIONS for the publication of scientific, art and sport related journals and books and for organizing events, tourist tours and travels and expeditions. He co-ordinated and organized the Bruges-Paris-Dakar and Trans-Mauretania desert expeditions and the relay Madrid-Gent, the latter on the occasion of the 500th year of the birthday in Ghent of Emperor Charles V.  He is tourist guide in his native town Ghent and devotes some of his ‘leasure’ time to landscape painting.



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