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P. Ole Fanger, pioneering Danish researcher and University Professor at SU, dies at age 72
P. Ole Fanger, pioneering Danish researcher and University Professor at SU, dies at age 72September 19, 2006Kelly Homan Rodoskikahoman@syr.edu
P. Ole Fanger, the world’s leading expert on the effect of the indoor environment on human comfort, health and productivity, died Monday night at Crouse Hospital in Syracuse. He was 72.
Fanger was admitted earlier in the day due to back pain; he died of a rupture of an abdominal aortic aneurism. He was in Syracuse for the week in his capacity as a University Professor at Syracuse University, an esteemed position to which he was named this past March. Fanger was to meet throughout the week with SU faculty and students to discuss plans for future research collaborations. He was scheduled to give a public lecture at SU on Tuesday afternoon, “Enhancing School Children’s Learning by Improving the Indoor Environment” — sharing the latest results of research conducted in his native Denmark and discussing the possibility of conducting a similar study in the United States.
Fanger was a senior professor at the International Centre for Indoor Environment and Energy at the Technical University of Denmark. In addition, he was only the 10th person in SU’s 136-year history to be named a University Professor; the designation, SU’s highest academic rank, is granted to those individuals whose accomplishments are of the highest order of importance and excellence, as recognized by peers both within and outside the University, nationally and abroad.
For more than three decades, Fanger had conducted interdisciplinary research that contributed to identifying the prime importance of the indoor environment for human comfort, health and productivity. His pioneering work on thermal comfort and indoor air quality provides the scientific foundation for standards across the world.
“Ole Fanger was a world-renowned engineer, scholar, educator and pioneer. Syracuse University was fortunate to count him as a colleague and friend,” says SU Chancellor and President Nancy Cantor. “Ole’s engagement with our students, faculty and partners as a University Professor substantially advanced our standing as a world-class research institution and greatly benefited our Center of Excellence in Environmental and Energy Systems. Our thoughts are with Ole’s family and friends during this difficult time. He will be missed.”
Fanger received an honorary doctor of science degree from SU at the 2005 Commencement and was the keynote speaker at the second annual Syracuse Symposium on Environmental and Energy Systems in 2002.
As a University Professor, Fanger supported SU’s environmental systems initiative embodied in the Syracuse Center of Excellence in Environmental and Energy Systems (CoE) and its associated STAR Center for Environmental Quality Systems, both of which sponsored his planned Tuesday lecture.
“Ole Fanger had a rare gift for creating research teams involving individuals from multiple disciplines, including engineering, science and medicine,” says Edward A. Bogucz, executive director of the Syracuse CoE. “Ole’s teams tackled the toughest issues, and made breakthroughs at the frontiers of traditional disciplines. We followed Ole’s approach in developing our programs, including engaging partners from multiple institutions and firms. We learned a lot from Ole through his personal engagement in our activities. His influence will be felt in Syracuse for generations to come.”
After being named a University Professor, Fanger continued to reside in Denmark but began scheduling periodic weeklong visits to SU to advise faculty and students on current research projects, give lectures on indoor environmental quality and engage in collaborative workshops with corporate and academic partners. He also supported the University’s activities while in Denmark, including hosting SU faculty and doctoral students at the International Centre at the Technical University of Denmark.
He last visited SU in June 2006 and gave two public lectures: “Impact of Indoor Air Quality on Health, Comfort, Productivity and Learning” and “How to Improve Indoor Air Quality While Saving Energy.”
“Ole Fanger loved to teach and he loved to learn,” says H. Ezzat Khalifa, director of the EQS STAR Center. “He literally `wrote the book’ on thermal comfort but he never stopped pursuing new knowledge for new chapters. He traveled the globe, teaching students of all types, and eagerly learning from others. He was an inspiration to us here in Syracuse, just as he was to everyone who knew him around the world.”
In 1998, Fanger established the International Centre with a 10-year Danish government grant and became its first director, recruiting several world-class researchers to investigate classic engineering disciplines along with research in medicine, chemistry and psychology.
In his lengthy and successful career, Fanger was presented with 75 scientific awards in 28 countries, including 12 honorary doctorates, 18 medals and honorary memberships in 16 professional societies. He was a foreign associate of the U.S. National Academy of Engineering and an international member of the Royal Academy of Engineering in the United Kingdom.
Fanger developed a comfort model for indoor quality, predicting perceived air quality in the indoor environment and required ventilation in buildings. He showed, through extensive field studies, that pollution from building materials, electronic devices and HVAC systems is often a major reason for poor indoor air quality.
He and his associates at the Technical University of Denmark documented for the first time that poor indoor air quality in homes increases the risk of asthma/allergy among children and that mediocre indoor air quality in offices decreases productivity. They showed that indoor air quality could be improved many times by using new technology while saving energy, with huge benefits for the national economy and for the quality of human life.
Fanger is survived by his two daughters, Bine Fanger and Tone Fanger, both of whom live in Copenhagen, Denmark.