Words from Dr. Florence Sylvestre on the passing of Françoise Gasse

With great emotion and sadness, we have to pass on the following sad new: Françoise GASSE, our colleague and our friend, passed away on April 22th, 2014.

Françoise Gasse, paleobiologist, specialist of Diatoms, paleoclimatologist and paleohydrologist dedicated her scientific research to the study of lacustrine sediments and lake waters. She initiated pioneer researches in order to reconstruct Quaternary climates and Environments in Sahara and Sahel, in East Africa (Ethiopia), in Madagascar, in western and south Asia (Caspian Sea, Tibet), and in the Middle East (Lebanon). The present knowledge of the arid zones paleoclimatology lies on her works on lakes and paleolakes of these regions. One of her key contribution has been to develop the use of diatom distribution to quantify how lake properties such as depth and salinity have evolved through time. Her research commonly integrated diatom and isotopic data and is characterized both by its sophisticated understanding of the importance of basin hydrogeomorphology in paleoclimatic interpretation and the rigor of her taxonomy of diatoms. The impact and quality of her career are and will remain exemplary.

She was the first woman who received the Vega Medal in Gold awarded in 2005 by the Swedish Society for Anthropology and Geography. In 2010, she was awarded the Hans Oeschger Medal of the European Union of Geosciences for her contribution to the reconstruction of climate variability during the Holocene. Her last contribution to the journal Paleolimnology (January 2014) was an ultimate tribute to the deserts : “Reminiscences and acknowledgments from a lover of deserts near the end of her professional life”.

Her friendly and discrete authority, her radiant smile and her cleverness will remain in our memories.

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