21 October 2019

Associate Professor Emeritus Egil Waagner Nielsen has passed away


Egil Waagner Nielsen (called Waagner) died October 9, 2019. He passed away quietly.

Associate Professor Emeritus Egil Waagner Nielsen passed away in his sleep October 9th, 2019. The last time he was at the Department of Food Science, UCPH FOOD, was 27. September 2019, where he gave a speech at the celebration of the movement of the statue of Segelcke. Waagner was among the few recipients of the Segelcke Medal for his important efforts to promote Danish dairy farming. Picture: Lene Hundborg Koss

Waagner was born June 20, 1934, in Sødring, where he also had a holiday home for many years. After leaving the upper-secondary, Waagner became a dairy apprentice at Fårup A/M and Ladelund, and before starting the dairy engineering programme he worked as a dairyman at Øster Tørslev dairy. During his studies, Waagner studied abroad in Switzerland before completing the MSc Dairy Science in 1960.

Waagner is known throughout the Danish dairy community as a teacher, first at Ladelund Agricultural and Dairy school from 1960 to 1972 and later at the Dairy laboratory/ Dept. of Dairy Science / Dept. of Food Science from 1972-2004. Internationally, he is known, among other things, for his work for DANIDA in Cyprus and FAO in Lebanon, Egypt and China. Since 2004, Waagner has been Associate Professor Emeritus at the Department of Food Science at the University of Copenhagen (UCPH FOOD).

Waagner had a large specialist knowledge of starter cultures, bacteriophages and the maturation of the cheese. Waagner's theoretical and practical knowledge was much appreciated in the dairy industry, and his knowledge was often needed when cheese-making dairies ran into problems, which also applied after he retired in 2004.

Waagner has also been very important for the ongoing education of dairy engineers at UCPH FOOD. Through the 1980s, 90s and the beginning of the millennium, several attempts were made to merge the food scientist and the dairy engineer programme, and it was considered to relocate the programme to among other places Aarhus University. Without Waagner’s huge efforts among others to preserve the dairy engineer programme, the title and the study programme would probably have disappeared, as it has been seen in most parts of Europe.

Waagner had an amazing memory and a formidable systematic system. If you had a question, he was well-known for being able to find the exact book in the bookcase or the exact papers on the subject in his huge pile of dairy papers.

Waagner also had a huge interest in the history of dairy farming and was a fantastic communicator, e.g. he was one of the main sources behind the television series "The History of Food Science - the Revolution from Frederiksberg" from May 2019. Waagner was also an important contributor to “Enclycopædien”, the National Encyclopaedia of Denmark on subjects within dairy and dairy products.

On November 13, 2012, Waagner received the Segelcke Medal, the most prestigious accolade in the Danish Dairy industry, as one out of only nineteen people have received since 1901. Waagner's last visit to the department was in connection with the celebration of the Segelcke statue being moved to UCPH FOOD on September 27, 2019,  where he gave a very nice speech. 

All honour to Egil Waagner Nielsen's memory.

On behalf of UCPH FOOD

Finn Kvist Vogensen, Associate Professor