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José Luis Guardiola Bárcena

José Luis Guardiola Bárcena 1943–2010

José Luis Guardiola Bárcena, head of the Plant Biology Department of the Polytechnic University of Valencia from 1986 until 2009, died on May 22, 2010, at the age of 67, after a long illness. His talent for good, honest scientific work, his lively frame of mind, and his disposition to teach made him a positive example for numerous researchers and colleagues from several countries.

Dr. Guardiola was born on March 5, 1943, in Valencia, Spain. He was educated as an agronomist at the High Technical School of Agronomy of Valencia, then received his doctorate in plant physiology from the University of Sussex (England) in 1970. He also earned a doctorate in agronomy from the Polytechnic University of Agronomy of Valencia (UPAV) in 1971.

In 1975, Dr. Guardiola became a professor of plant physiology at UPAV. He then served as the director of the High Technical School of Agronomy from 1978-1983. In 1986, he became head of the Plant Biology Department of UPAV. He was occasionally asked to serve as chancellor or vice-chancellor of the university, but he chose to work full-time teaching and conducting scientific work.

Through his teaching efforts, he contributed to the training of many agronomists and researchers for more than 30 years. He initiated and directed an International Master of Citriculture program, and more than 300 students from various countries have been trained through this international course.

Although best known for his work in citrus plants (Rutaceae), which led to more than 150 experimental and review articles in international journals and conference proceedings, Dr. Guardiola also made significant contributions to the understanding of the physiology of saffron (Crocus sativus, Iridaceae). In collaboration with the General Company of Saffron of Spain, he led the effort in extending the harvest period for saffron from 15 days under traditional cultivation to 6 months under controlled greenhouse conditions. At the First International Symposium of Saffron, held in Albacete, Spain, in 2003, he worked with other saffron researchers to promote and establish a European collaborative project in saffron, an effort that led to the formation of the CROCUS-BANK. Through this organization, an international group of researchers from 13 countries cooperatively collect, multiply, characterize, and share information and germplasm of saffron and other Crocus species.

Of his many other accomplishments, Dr. Guardiola organized the 8th International Symposium on Plant Bioregulators in Fruit Production in Valencia in 1997, served as a member of the editorial advisory board of various Spanish and international scientific journals, and acted as a technical adviser for different governmental organizations of Spain, Israel, South Africa, and the United States. His professional advice also helped citrus cooperatives.

Dr. Guardiola’s know-how, organizational and leadership skills, warmness, kindness, pleasant disposition, love of teaching, and passion for research will be remembered by all he touched. He leaves his wife, Amparo García-Luis, who was his co-worker and support for many years, as well as 3 sons, 4 grandchildren, and those of us who had the privilege of knowing and working with him. Dear José Luis, rest in peace.

—Rosa-Victoria Molina Senior Lecturer in Plant Biology Universidad Politécnica de Valencia Spain