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In memoriam John Dittami (1949 - 2014)

John Dittami, behavioural endocinologist, and ornithologist, Professor of
ethology at the University of Vienna Faculty of Life Sciences, and
scientific director of the Konrad Lorenz Forschungsstelle in Grünau,
passed away Wednesday, August 27 in the age of 65.
After Konrad Lorenz died in 1989, John Dittami was instrumental to prevent
the closing of the KLF, with his typical mixture of optimism, creativity,
and enthousiasm and a fair measure of stubbornness. It was him who
re-establish scientific operations at the KLF in connection with the
University of Vienna and it was him who hired the staff who run the KLF
ever since. Thereby he provided the base for scientific continuity carried
by a close connection between the University of Vienna and the State of
Upper Austria. Finally, this resulted in establishing  the KLF as a "Core
Facility" of the University of Vienna.
In 1990 it was rather a return to Grünau for John. More than 40 years ago,
as a student of Boston Med School he hit the KLF in Grünau and Konrad
Lorenz, more or less by chance on his way South, trying to walk from
Frankfurt airport to the biological research station in Naples. Just one
example of the many heroic attempts in his life. This navigation error and
meeting Konrad Lorenz changed his life. He switched to biology and with
his research into the behavioural endocrinology in birds, which he started
in Grünau and continued at the MPI in Seewiesen, he managed to make a
living from his passion. After becoming a professor at Vienna University
he established several lines of comparative behavioural endocrinology at
the KLF and at his Department in Vienna.
John not only was an incredibly spirit for all his colleagues and friends,
he also was a rich and multifacet personality. In parallel to science and
academia he was pretty serious with the pleasant sides of life, being an
able guitar player and singer at parties, a professional field
ornithologist, a demanding hiking guide and a pretty tough and devoted
marathon runner. We all owe him quite a lot and will always keep memories
of John full of friendship and respect. Incomprehensible that he seems to
be gone forever. But who knows?

Konrad Lorenz Forschungsstelle
Fischerau 11
4645 Grünau

T: +43 7616 8510
University of Vienna | Universitätsring 1 | 1010 Vienna | T +43-1-4277-0