TRIBUTE Mario Zucchelli 13 July 1944 - 24 October 2003
Mario Zucchelli, President of Italy's National Programme of Antarctic Research, will always be remembered by his Antarctic colleagues as a "real leader", whose strong personality and dedication to Antarctic research served to inspire his Italian coworkers.
He contributed significantly to the management of Italy's Antarctic Research Programme, particularly to the Ice Core Project at Concordia.
Mario was born at Crevalcore in Bologna, Italy. He obtained a Degree in Nuclear Engineering (equivalent to a Master Degree) in 1970 and worked as a Nuclear Engineer in the Fast Breeder Reactors Programme of Bologna for CNEN (Italian Atomic Energy Commission), nowadays called ENEA (Italian National Agency for New Technologies, Energy and the Environment). Between 1970 and 1975 he was part of a group working on the construction of the PEC fast reactor.
In 1975 Mario was appointed Director of the Brasimone Research Centre, the most modern of Italy's nuclear research centres, and became responsible for the organisation of infrastructures and general services.
In 1978 he gained a third degree qualifying him in Health Physics and Radiation. During Mario's twelve year term as Director, the Brasimone Centre achieved its greatest development.
In 1987 Mario was appointed Head of the Antarctic Project of ENEA and remained there until April 2003. During this time he became a key figure in Italy's Antarctic Research Programme, leading 15 Antarctic expeditions that involved more than 3000 participants.
He was instrumental in signing off several major international co-operation agreements, including that between Italy and France for the establishment of Concordia at Dome C, the Cape Roberts drilling programme between Italy, USA,UK, NZ, Germany and Australia, and an agree-
ment between Italy and Russia for high atmosphere research.
Zucchelli was Coordinator of two important international working groups for COMNAP (Council of Managers of the Antarctic Programs), one developing evaluation procedures for the environmental impact of activities, and the other for a system of national databanks to exchange Antarctic research information.
Zucchelli was the elected Chairman of COMNAP from 1991 to 1994 and was also a member of the SCAR Executive.
He also served on the Steering Committee for the establishment of Concordia Base, on the Council of managers of the Cape Roberts agreement from 1993, and also on the Executive of the Europem Polar Board since 1995.
In April 2003 Mario Zucchelli was appointed President of Italy's National Programme of Antarctic Research. In September 2003, Mario was awarded the Gold Medal for Schools, Culture and Art by the Italian President, Carlo Azeglio Ciampi.
In the words of his Antarctic colleagues at Concordia: "His philosophy was to always go one step further to ensure the target. He put in so many years of hard work, often sacrificing his personal life. We were one family and like all families there were diverging opinions.
We had discussions, got angry, but became united in the face of difficulty, becoming a single body that overcame difficulties and tiredness. And in seventeen years of activity there were plenty of those.
"It is heart-warming to remember how Mario, on cold Antarctic evenings after a long day of work in the field, liked to remember his childhood moments, his love of the earth and his attachment to tradition and human values; feelings that generated a family atmosphere of friendship, human warmth and affection."
"These are the memories that remain with us, we who had the privilege of knowing Mario and working with him, respecting the high level to which he took the Italian Antarctic Programme. In difficult moments he would make it all seem worthwhile. This was Mario for us - a very special person."