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Daan, Prof. Serge

10 December 2019

Prof. Serge Daan (1940-2018) was an inspiring biologist with a broad interest in science. His publications were cited over 17,000 times and include seminal work in chronobiology, sleep research, psychiatry, physiology, ecology and behavioural biology. The ‘Two Process Model’ of human sleep regulation he developed with Alex Borbély and Domien Beersma, still inspires many sleep researchers all over the world. He was awarded several prizes and awards, including the prestigious International Prize for Biology, which he received from the Emperor of Japan. Furthermore, he was appointed fellow of the Royal Society of Canada and was knighted in the Order of the Lion of the Netherlands.

Serge Daan started as Associate Professor at the University of Groningen in 1975, as part of the Animal Ecology group of Professor R.H. Drent. In 1994 he became Extraordinarius in Chronobiology, and in 1996 Professor of Ethology. In 2003 he was awarded with the prestigious Niko Tinbergen chair in Behavioral Biology and in 2006 with the prestigious International Prize for Biology.

A video about the life and contributions of Prof. Serge Daan is now available on the UG YouTube channel:

Daan (co-)supervised more than 40 PhD students, most of them pursuing a successful career in science. He also was chair and member of several committees of the Dutch Science Foundation (NWO), chair of the Dutch Society of Behavioural Biology, and he founded the Centre of Timing Research in the Netherlands. In 2001, he became Vice Dean and later Dean of the Groningen Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences (now named Faculty of Science and Engineering), where he was instrumental in implementing the tenure track system and the Rosalind Franklin Fellowship programme for women at the University of Groningen. He stayed active in the field after retirement.

Serge Daan studied Biology at the University of Amsterdam. In 1973, Serge Daan obtained his PhD (cum laude) with a thesis on hibernation and circadian rhythms. In his period as a postdoc, he worked with the two founders of modern chronobiology, Jürgen Aschoff and Colin Pittendrigh.

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