Franz Pirchner


Date of Birth:

The following is the citation read for Prof Pirchner for receiving the Honorary degree of Doctor of Science from the Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) in Zurich.  ETH is one of the world's most prestigious universities and bestows this honour on only a very few outstanding individuals.

Animal husbandry and the sustainable use of animal resources are part of the foundation supporting agricultural production.  The consequent application of the scientific understanding of animal breeding and genetics is crucial for achieving economic goals in agriculture, as well as to properly address the ecological and animal welfare issues regarding farm animals.  Animal science and genetics therefore has become a worldwide nucleus for agricultural research and teaching.

Franz Pirchner holds a key intellectual and leading position in the field of European animal science.  He was by far one of the most prominent graduates of the J. L. Lush school at Iowa State University.  Lush received an honorary doctoral degree from ETHZ in 1971.  Pirchner, as Professor, first in Vienna and later in Munich/Freising, used a broad scientific approach in covering all species of farm and laboratory animals, and horses.  One of his more important and well known accomplishments was the introduction and realization of population genetic methods in Europe.  He played a major role in promoting modern cytogenetic and molecular techniques in animal science.  Additionally, he was very involved in elucidating the role of farm animals in Alpine regions of Europe.

For Franz Pirchner, animals are living creatures to be respected.  On the basis of scientifically sound and replicable research in animal behaviour, he conceived and formulated basic concepts for meaningful research, including farm animal welfare.  He supported scientists at his institute in conducting investigations on animal behaviour and welfare.  Franz Pirchner is a talented and enthusiastic teacher who had great influence in the academic world.  He supported the younger scientific generation.  His open-minded approach and integrity also influenced the development of modern genetics in eastern European countries during and after the period of Lyssenko.

The Department of Agriculture and Food Science of ETHZ is pleased to honour Franz Pirchner for his lifetime work in addressing the university-oriented scientific, pedagogic and human dimensions of animal science and genetics.  The Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Zurich wishes to show its appreciation to Prof Franz Pirchner, Austria for the meritorious and intellectual leading role he has played in the development and support of scientific research and teaching throughout the field of animal genetics and animal welfare in Europe by awarding him the honorary degree of Doctor of Science.

Felix Escher, Head of Department
Year 2001

Franz Pirchner was editor-in-chief for the Journal of Animal Breeding and Genetics for many years.  He wrote a book on population genetics in 1964.