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C.V. Serge Daan

Prof.dr. Serge Daan
Prof.dr. Serge Daan

Serge Daan (1940-2018) grew up in the Dutch countryside, went to high school (Gymnasium β )in Deventer , and studied biology at the University of Amsterdam . Hij received his Ph.D. there cum laude with a thesis on hibernation funded by a personal grant from ZWO. This research put him on the track of the timing of behaviour, a theme he was to pursue for the rest of his life. He was trained as a postdoc by the two founders of modern chronobiology, Jürgen Aschoff and Colin Pittendrigh. This 4-year episode, at the Max Planck Institute for Behavioral Physiology in Andechs , Bavaria and Stanford University in California , and the lifelong collaboration and friendship with both were crucial for his professional career. It was supported by the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, NATO and the National Science Foundation. In 1975 Daan was appointed at the University of Groningen as associate professor in the Animal Ecology group of R.H.Drent. In 1994 he became Extraordinarius in Chronobiology, in 1996 Professor of Ethology. Starting in 2003 he occupies the Niko Tinbergen chair in Behavioral Biology. Serge Daan is married since 1982 with Ruth Hohe-Daan. They live in Paterswolde and have three children.

Daan’s research has focussed on the temporal organisation of behaviour in animals and humans. He contributed a number of key concepts and models to our insight in life history, biological timing and periodicity. These concern the ‘circadiane’ (circa 24-h) rhythms of rest and activity, the regulation of human sleep, and the annual timing of reproduction. The research was reported in circa 250 publications, many of which are frequently cited. His publication “The Prudent Parent” with R.H.Drent (1980) was one of the top-3 publications in the life sciences in the Netherlands in the number of citations in the 1990’s. Daan is frequently inivited to conferences as a keynote speaker. He gave prestigeous lectures such as 8th Laurence Irving-Per Scholander Memorial Lecture at the University of Alaska (1990), the Niko Tinbergen Lecture (Londen 1996), the First Colin S. Pittendrigh Lecture ( Florida 1998).

Much of his research was made possible by the enthusiasm of numerous students, among which so far 44 Ph.D. students. He is now coordinator of the new topmaster program in Behavioural and Cognitive Neurosciences of the RuG, for which he took the initiative.

Daan held many offices in academia. He was member of the board of Earth and Life Sciences of NWO (1997-2002), and is since 2002 chairman of the NWO program Evolution and Behaviour. He was president of the Dutch Society for Behavioural Biology (1996-2001). From 2001 to 2004 he was vicedean for research at the RuG’s Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences, and together with dean D.A. Wiersma responsible for incisive changes such as the tenure track system, the Tripos structure and the Rosalind Franklin fellowships. He served on numerous national and international committees and editorial boards.

Daan received several distinctions for his work, including the Victor & Erna Hasselblad award (1982), a prize of the Dutch Society for Light Therapy (1992), and the Alexander von Humboldt Research Prize (1992). He was elected as member of the Dutch Society of Sciences (1999) and Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada (2000). He received the Knighthood in the Order of the Dutch Lion (2004).
Last modified:16 February 2018 11.29 a.m.
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