USPA In Memoriam - Hugh M. French
The US permafrost community regretfully conveys the following news about our Canadian
colleague and long standing member of the U.S.Permafrost Association:
In memoriam Hugh M. French former IPA (International Permafrost Association).
"The IPA is saddened to announce the sudden passing on May 11, 2019 in Victoria, B.C. of
Dr. Hugh M. French, former Dean of the Faculty of Science and Professor Emeritus in the departments of Geography,
Environment and Geomatics and of Earth Sciences at the University of Ottawa, Canada. Hugh is internationally
recognized as a specialist on periglacial processes and permafrost science. In a career as a professor that started
with his first visit to the Arctic in 1967 and spanned 36 years, plus a further 16 years post-retirement, he wrote
or co-wrote more than 160 publications covering topics such as ground ice formation and distribution, slope processes,
natural and anthropogenic thermokarst, and frozen ground engineering. He was one of the most widely travelled
geocryologists, publishing studies carried out in the Canadian High Arctic and Subarctic, the Tibet Plateau, Antarctica,
and parts of Europe and the USA which experienced periglacial conditions during the Quaternary. He also supervised
numerous graduate students, several of whom remain prominent in the field. His many other accomplishments included
founding the journal Permafrost and Periglacial Processes which he edited for 16 years, and writing four editions
of his textbook The Periglacial Environment over nearly 30 years, the last of which was published in 2017. Hugh played
important roles in the International Permafrost Association helping found it in 1983 and subsequently as Vice-President
(1993-1998) and President (1998-2003). He received the Roger J.E. Brown Award of the Canadian Geotechnical Society for
outstanding contributions to permafrost science and engineering, the Award for Scholarly Distinction in Geography from
the Canadian Association of Geographers and the International Permafrost Association’s Lifetime Achievement Award. Hugh
was a lifetime member of the recently founded Canadian Permafrost Association and a great supporter of its goals. The
Hugh M. French Award for outstanding contributions to permafrost science and/or periglacial geomorphology, which had
already been named in his honour, will be awarded for the first time at the Eighth Canadian Permafrost Conference in
Québec in August 2019. The IPA offers its sincere condolences to Hugh’s wife Jill, and his many friends and international
colleagues. He will be missed."
Source: Toni Lewkowicz
Hugh was a principal organizer of the International Permafrost Association. Photograph of the participants at
the organizing meeting of the IPA during the Fourth International Conference on Permafrost in July 1983 at the University of Alaska.
Participants in the 1983 founding meeting of the IPA.
A ceremony at the Ninth International Conference on Permafrost honored historically significant contributions
to permafrost science and engineering, including the publication of Siemon Muller's lost manuscript (Frozen in Time).
From left, standing, are: Jerry Brown
(president of the International Permafrost Association); Hugh French and Fritz Nelson; and seated, from left, are Eric Muller (Siemon Muller's son),
Louise and Oscar Ferrians, and Sherry Muller, June 30, 2008
Five IPA Presidents, Toni Lewkowicz, Hugh French, Hanne Christiansen, Jerry Brown, and
Cheng Goudong, 7th Canadian Conferences on Permafrost, Québec, Canada, September 20-23, 2015.