Scientist Ludovic Mrazec has had a great contribution to the development of geology in Romania as well as to the study of the origin of oil. . The founder of the Romanian Society of Geological Sciences and first director of the Geological Institute of the Romanian Academy, Mrazec also occupied the position of minister of industries and trade in 1920, but only for a short while. He was born in July 1867 in Craiova, southern Romania, into a family with Czech and Austrian origins. His father, a pharmacist, settled in Romania in 1861.
As a child, Ludovic was attracted by natural sciences but later he decided to follow the same career as his father. He studied at the Faculty of Pharmacy in Bucharest where one of his teachers was the reputed bacteriologist Victor Babeş. After graduation, Mrazec took up the study of geology and in 1894 he was appointed teacher of mineralogy, crystallography and petrography of the Faculty of Sciences within the Bucharest University. It was the beginning of a great career for Ludovic Mrazec, who in 1905 became a member of the Romanian Academy and later the president of this scientific and cultural institution. Academician Cristian Hera, the current president of the Romanian Academy, will next be talking about the personality of Ludovic Mrazec.
“The great achievements obtained by young Ludovic Mrazec made academician Constantin Istrati propose him, on May 25, 1901 for the position of corresponding member of the Romanian Academy. At the time he was 34, being one of the youngest elected members of the Academy. On April 11, 1905 Ludovic Mrazec became a full member of the Academy and on March 23, 1907 he delivered a brilliant first speech on the formation of oil resources in Romania. The document was recorded in the Academy’s Annals. On the same year, 1907, Ludovic Mrazec proposed that the well-known scholar Grigore Antipa should become a corresponding member of the Romanian Academy. In recognition for his merits, Ludovic Mrazec was elected Vice-President of the Academy between 1913-1916, to become President of the Academy between May 30, 1932 and May 31, 1935. During his presidency, he drawn up the project for the revision of the statute of the Romanian Academy and initiated the reorganization of this scientific forum. Together with Grigore Antipa he set up the Museum of Natural Sciences in Bucharest.”
Soil research was of particular interest to Ludovic Mrazec. His studies led to major breakthroughs regarding reserves of strategic importance for Romania: oil and salt. He was the first Romanian specialist to establish the link between oil and the organic matter accumulated in time. Also, in 1901 Ludovic Mrazec presented at the International Exhibition in Paris the first map of salt formations in Romania. He spent a lot of time working at the Geology Institute of the Romanian Academy, as academician Cristian Hera told us:
“At the Geological Institute, academician Mrazec set up, besides the Geology Department, which was the main department of the institute, an agro-geology department, which would later became the pedology department. The Geological Institute was established on June 19, 1906, following a proposal made by the then minister of agriculture, trade and domains. The institute was set up by royal decree and Mrazec was put at its helm. Under his leadership, which lasted until 1928, the institute became known for many outstanding results in the field, including with regard to soil science, more particularity matters concerning soil fertility and soil’s capacity to simultaneously and continuously satisfy plants’ need for water and nourishment. One first map of soil resources in Romania, drawn up at the Geological Institute, was presented at the Agro-Geology Conference in Budapest in 1909, and then, for the unified Romania, at the first Soil Science International Congress, held in the US in 1927”.
Ludovic Mrazec was a modest man, an introvert, and he sacrificed his personal life to science. He died in 1944 in Bucharest, not before deciding that the money that was to be used for flowers on his coffin and grave be given to the poor. Also, he did not want any official speech at his funeral.
(Translated by M. Ignatescu & L. Simion)